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Robertson v. Standard Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 3, 2017

SHERRY F. ROBERTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
STANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          Michael D. Grabhorn GRABHORN LAW OFFICE, PLLC, MEGAN E. GLOR ATTORNEYS AT LAW, Megan E. Glor MEGAN E. GLOR ATTORNEYS AT LAW Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Andrew M. Altschul BUCHANAN ANGELI ALTSCHUL & SULLIVAN LLP, Jacqueline J. Herring Warren Sebastian von Schleicher SMITTH, VON SCHLEICHER & ASSOCIATES Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ, United States District Judge

         Defendant Standard Insurance Company moves for summary judgment and entry of a final order terminating this case as a matter of law. Plaintiff Sherry F. Robertson's case against Defendant has proceeded in this Court over the past three years. Because Plaintiff has already received all the relief she is due, the Court grants Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 30, 2015, this Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiff in her action against Defendant under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Robertson v. Standard Ins. Co., 139 F.Supp.3d 1190 (D. Or. 2015). The Court found that Defendant abused its discretion when it terminated Plaintiff's long-term disability (“LTD”) insurance benefits and waiver-of-premium of a life insurance policy benefit. Id. at 1193. The Court concluded that Defendant fell far short of fulfilling its fiduciary duty to Plaintiff. Id. at 1210. As the Court explained, Defendant's denial of Plaintiff's claim was the result of the failure to conduct an independent medical examination, the failure to fully consider a contrary SSA determination, the failure to provide Defendant's independent experts with all of the relevant evidence, and the unjustified reliance on an unreasonable Functional Capacity Evaluation. Id.

         On November 20, 2015, this Court entered a judgment in which it ordered Plaintiff's long-term disability benefits reinstated effective October 18, 2013 and awarded for the remainder of the “Own Occupation” period. Judgment, ECF 43. However, as to Plaintiff's claim for long-term disability benefits under the “Any Occupation” definition of disability, the Court remanded the case to Defendant for an administrative determination. Id. In a separately issued Opinion & Order, the Court explained that the administrative record had not been adequately developed regarding the “Any Occupation” standard. O&O, Nov. 13, 2015, ECF 42.

         A year later, on November 4, 2016, this Court granted Plaintiff's motion to reopen the case because Defendant had failed to timely render a decision on Plaintiff's right to receive disability benefits under the “Any Occupation” standard. Robertson v. Standard Ins. Co., 218 F.Supp.3d 1165 (D. Or. 2016). The Court set a deadline for Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Sched. Order, ECF 56.

         On December 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in which she asserts four claims: (1) breach of contract, enforceable through 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B); breach of fiduciary duty, enforceable through 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3); (3) disgorgement, enforceable through 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) and 1132(a)(3); and (4) attorneys' fees and costs, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g).

         On January 25, 2017, Defendant concluded its administrative review and approved Plaintiff's disability claim under the “Any Occupation” standard. Def.'s Mot. Ex. A, ECF 68-1. Defendant paid Plaintiff all benefits due, attorneys' fees and costs in full, and prejudgment interest. Def.'s Mot. Ex. B, ECF 68-2.

         STANDARDS

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion, and identifying those portions of “‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).

         Once the moving party meets its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to present “specific facts” showing a “genuine issue for trial.” Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924, 927-28 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). The nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate facts showing an issue for trial. Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1218 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).

         The substantive law governing a claim determines whether a fact is material. Suever v. Connell, 579 F.3d 1047, 1056 (9th Cir. 2009). The court draws inferences from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Earl v. ...


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