Alert July 22, 2008

First Circuit Court of Appeals to Entertain Amicus Briefs in Case Involving Conflicts of Interest in Denying ERISA Benefits Claims

Following the recent Supreme Court decision in Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Glenn, No. 06-923 (S. Ct. June 19, 2008), discussed in the June 24, 2008 Alert, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (“First Circuit”) will reexamine whether to affirm the denial of ERISA benefits by an administrator who both determines eligibility for claims and also is responsible for paying eligible benefits.  Following Glenn, the First Circuit vacated its judgment affirming the denial of benefits in a case with facts that are similar to those found by the Supreme Court last month to create a conflict of interest.  The First Circuit stated expressly that it “will entertain motions for leave to file amicus briefs by new potential amici.”  Amici, or friends of the court, could present to the panel that will decide the first case after Glenn their views on topics relevant to the disposition of the case, such as the appropriate standard courts should use in weighing any perceived conflict.  Under the current briefing schedule, any amicus briefs supporting the appellee are due September 17, 2008.  Denmark v. Liberty Life Assur. Co. of Boston, 2008 WL 2602158 (1st Cir. July 2, 2008).

Goodwin Procter litigators have been at the forefront of these and other cutting edge ERISA cases, and have won important victories for clients at the First Circuit and elsewhere.  Our lawyers would be pleased to discuss the filing of amicus briefs with interested clients.