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Employment – ERISA — statutory penalties

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Employment – ERISA — statutory penalties

An award of statutory penalties for failure to provide an insured a copy of her benefits plan must be vacated, where the district court miscalculated the dates.

“First, the use of April 28, 2008, as the date of James’s request for an SPD does not comport with the record. We believe that the record clearly shows the actual request date to be April 24, 2008, and therefore, on remand, the district court should begin its calculations using that date. Second, the district court used January 7, 2010, as the end date because that is the date James had ‘suggested.’ But that date is based on an imprecise reading of James’s arguments. James has consistently argued—including in his supplemental brief in support of his statutory-penalties claims—that he seeks statutory damages on the basis of both Royal Management’s alleged failure to produce an SPD and on its failure to produce a copy of the group policy. Thus, James argued, he was due two separate penalty awards: the first, based on the failure to produce a copy of the group policy, from the thirty-first day after his April 24, 2008, request, to January 7, 2010, the date Royal Management produced the group policy; the second, based on the failure to produce an SPD, from the thirty-first day after his April 24, 2008, request, to the date Judge Feinerman’s order was issued because Royal Management never produced an SPD. The district court thus improperly calculated the end date by conflating the two claims and tying James’s January 7, 2010, requested end date for the group-policy claim to James’s SPD claim. Third, and finally, the district court did not mention James’s statutory-penalties claim based on Royal Management’s alleged failure to provide a copy of the group policy. As we noted above, the district court has discretion in the first instance to decide whether to assess statutory penalties for a particular infraction at all and, if so, how much to assess. But the district court may not overlook a party’s statutory-penalties claim that has been made consistently throughout the course of litigation.”

Affirmed in part, and Reversed in part.

11-1112 Killian v. Concert Health Plan

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Aspen, Feinerman, JJ., Manion, J.

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