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Defense Victory, Attorney’s Fees Denied – E.D. LA

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  • Defense Victory, Attorney’s Fees Denied – E.D. LA

    Here’s a new case out of the Eastern District of Louisiana entitled Amanda C. Foster v. Principal Life Insurance Company, et. al. This is a very lengthy opinion clocking in at 65 pages. It is heavily fact laden and does not merit a discussion here, but the part of interest that I saw is that the court denies Principal’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs.

    The first Bowen factor concerns the bad faith of a party. No evidence exists that Foster was in bad faith in asserting her claims. Foster cites to several competing medical opinions in support of her claims. Thus, although Principal’s denial of benefits is supported by “substantial evidence,” some evidence supports Foster’s arguments, and it cannot be said that Foster’s claims were made in bad faith. The second and third Bowen factors also weigh in favor of denying Principal’s request for attorney’s fees and costs. No evidence exists that Foster has the ability to satisfy an award of attorney’s fees, nor that condemning Foster to pay attorney’s fees and costs would deter other individuals from contesting a denial of benefits.

    The fourth Bowen factor considers whether the party requesting fees and costs sought to benefit all participants and beneficiaries of an ERISA plan or resolve a significant legal question regarding ERISA itself. Certainly, in denying Foster’s claim and filing the Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record, Principal is not seeking to benefit plan participants and beneficiaries. Moreover, Principal’s motion does not seek resolution of a significant legal question regarding ERISA itself. Thus, the fourth Bowen factor weighs against an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

    Finally, the relative merits of the parties’ position likewise weighs in favor of a denial of attorney’s fees and costs. As noted above, Foster’s position is not unfounded, it was simply unsuccessful. Considering all of the Bowen factors, the Court denies Principal’s request for attorney’s fees and costs.
    The opinion is attached below.
    Attached Files
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