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Motion for Discovery on the basis of Conflict of Interest: N.D. Ohio

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  • Motion for Discovery on the basis of Conflict of Interest: N.D. Ohio

    While this type of motion is far from unusual, the manner in which the Plaintiff argues, while ultimately unsuccessful, is unique. In this case, the Plaintiff alleges a conflict of interest, not because the evaluator of the claim and the payor are the same entity, but because they are different.

    she creatively attempts to use the separation between the evaluator and the payor to generate the specter of a conflict. Recognizing that Sedgwick “is not performing its duties as a decision maker without charge[,]” Alekna suggest that the existence of a contract between Sedgwick and the Plan extending to Sedgwick full authority to determine claims without input from defendants or the Plan “raises the issue . . . as to whether [her] claim was administered correctly under the Policy outlined by the Plan.” (Id.) According to Alekna, the fact that Sedgwick is paid for its services, alone, “invites the potential for a bias for Sedgwick to eliminate claims for AT&T.
    The court, however, is not persuaded. The court notes that allowing such a motion would have the effect of transforming the rules of discovery in all ERISA cases.

    To allow discovery in such circumstances would require discovery in all ERISA cases, transforming the exception into the rule, and decimating case law underscoring the limited nature of ERISA discovery. While Alekna’s complaint contains a conclusory allegation that a conflict of interest exists, she offers no evidence, or even any factual allegation alluding to an already existing conflict like that identified in Glenn.4 Instead, it is clear that she is hoping that discovery will lead to the unearthing of some previously unknown conflict or procedural defect.
    Accordingly, the court denied the Plaintiff's motion. The opinion is attached below.
    Attached Files