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Ninth Circuit Rules District Court Abused Its Discretion In Failing to Consider Insurer’s Pre-appeal Conduct and Kicks Case Back to Lower Court to Calculate Attorney Fees in ERISA Appeal

Group Disability Benefits Plan for Gynecologic Oncology Associates Partners, LLC (“the Plan”), represented by Marc S. Schechter and Corey F. Schechter of Butterfield Schechter LLP, is entitled to attorney fees incurred while defending itself during forced litigation by insurer Sun Life's wrongful denial of legitimate benefits claims, and its subsequent appeal of the Plan's award of attorney fees. In the October 31, 2017, Ninth Circuit published opinion, the Court notes, “A party like Sun Life should not be able to appeal from a litigation fee award, even on an issue justifying appellate review, and thereby impose significant costs on the appellee in defending the fee award, while taking comfort in the knowledge that any potential appellate fee award against it will be judged solely on the basis of its appellate arguments on the fee issue.”

Judge Berzon, in a concurring opinion, noted that “…parties who seek fees on a successful ERISA fees appeal should not be required to prove their entitlement to fees a second time.”

Partner Marc Schechter said about the recent decision, “This case has been ongoing since 2009. It is rewarding after so many years to see the law and justice upheld, but we continue to be in a holding pattern as the matter has been referred back to the district court to determine reasonable fees to be awarded.”

Click here to view the entire Opinion.

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