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MetLife v. Glenn: Will it Help or Hurt?

Disability Wiki.

We believe that the MetLife v. Glenn standard of review may turn out to be better for plaintiffs than the de novo standard of review. This is because a de novo review focuses exclusively on the evidence of New York Disability Lawyer, whereas the Glenn standard also focuses on an insurer’s conduct. In MetLife v. Glenn, the Supreme Court upheld a "combination-of-factors method of review." Under such a standard, "any one factor (even the insurer's inherent conflict of interest) will act as a tiebreaker when the other factors are closely balanced."

Glenn's focus on the insurer's conduct will be crucial in the average case that reaches litigation, where the record includes both evidence submitted by the claimant supporting disability and evidence procured by the insurer militating against disability. Under the de novo standard, the Court will weigh that evidence, with plaintiff having the burden of establishing disability by a “preponderance” of the evidence. When the evidence is evenly balanced, it is far from certain that the plaintiff will establish this burden.

Under the Glenn standard, however, the Court will take into account a conflicted insurer’s own conduct. As the Court states, “ERISA imposes higher-than-marketplace quality standards on insurers.” Accordingly, instead of evenly weighing the medical evidence and deciding whether the claimant satisfied his or her burden, the Glenn standard requires the Court to look at the insurer’s evidence with a degree of skepticism. To a judge with no medical background being asked to make a medical determination, this may tip the balance. In other words, when there is evidence on both sides (as there is in most cases in litigation), the insurer’s conflict will taint the insurer’s evidence and thereby serve as a tiebreaker in favor of the claimant.

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