Denial of ERISA Benefits Reversed, and Contract and Tort Actions - U.S. Tenth Circuit
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Denial of ERISA Benefits Reversed, and Contract and Tort Actions

In Murphy v. Deloitte & Touche Grp. Ins. Plan, No. 09-2028, an action concerning defendant's denial of disability benefits under an ERISA plan, the court vacated summary judgment for defendant where 1) the court's case law prohibited courts from considering materials outside the administrative record where the extra-record materials sought to be introduced related to a claimant's eligibility for benefits; and 2) neither a claimant nor an administrator should be allowed to use discovery to engage in unnecessarily broad discovery that slows the efficient resolution of an ERISA claim.

In Wilcox v. Homestake Mining Co., No. 08-2282, an action brought under the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. section 2210, claiming that plaintiffs suffered cancer due to exposure to radiation from defendants' uranium mill, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) there was no basis in New Mexico law for extending the exception to the but-for causation requirement beyond the limited bounds the court described in interpreting the Restatement view under Colorado law in June; and 2) to the extent Tafoya altered the but-for test in situations where a defendant's actions aggravated but did not cause an injury, it was not applicable in this case.

In McKissick v. Yuen, No. 08-5151, an action against plaintiff's former company and two of its former officers, accusing them of perpetrating a fraud that rendered her stock options in the company worthless, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) the parties' separation agreement unambiguously barred plaintiff's claims; and 2) although the separation agreement entitled defendant to recoup the attorney's fees it incurred in defending the suit, the agreement did not permit the company to recover the fees it incurred in prosecuting a counterclaim against plaintiff.

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