Case No. 18-13173
February 8, 2019
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint seeking current and prospective relief under ERISA as to her employer’s life insurance benefits plan.
The plaintiff sued after the defendant denied the plaintiff’s claim for a premium waiver under the plan on the grounds of total disability. After the suit was filed, the defendant reversed its administrative decision and granted the waiver retroactively, and the district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds of mootness. In response, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint which again brought her original claim, and added a request for declaratory relief as to how the plan would treat her qualification under the waiver provision in the future. The district court again dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit agreed that the original claim was moot, and that the claim for future relief did not raise a present case or controversy. The Court rejected the plaintiff’s contention that the Court should apply judicial estoppel to bar Liberty Life from contending that her claim was not presently justiciable, distinguishing another case plaintiff identified involving Liberty Life’s litigation position, finding it was not inconsistent with the defendant’s position in this case.