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Discovery ordered in Missouri Federal ERISA case in a breach of fiduciary duty and penalties case against Anheuser Busch and Prudential Insurance Company

Phillip A. Tatlow
Phil, Phillip, Phillip A. Tatlow, ERISA, Long-term disability, disability, wrongful death, Union attorney

Steve Kostecki sued Prudential Insurance Company and Anheuser Busch for life insurance benefits on a buy-out of the plan due to becoming permanentally and totally disabled under the plan. Prudential denied the claim on the basis that he did not submit the claim within the 3 year period under the plan. Kostecki claims that Anheuser Busch breached a fiduciary duty owed to him by concealing the terms of the plan and by not regularly mailing him plan documents. He claims that he stopped working due to his disablity and later applied for Social Security benefits. After being awarded Social Security benefits, he applied for a buy-out of his life insurance policy with Prudential and AB. This was denied as being untimely. Mr. Kostecki alleges that AB and Prudential's failure to provide him with an employee certificate gives rise to civil penalties and that because Defendants materially misrepresented the terms of the plan and concealed the time in which to bring such a claim that they are barred from raising the three year time limit to bring such a claim.

The general rule in ERISA cases is that the court reviews the denial based only on the administrative record and that no discovery is allowed such as written interrogatories, or document requests to the Defendants. Here however, Plaintiff is seeking equitable relief under 29 USC 1132 (a) (3). Because of that the court ruled that "discovery is to be governed under traditional federal, circuit, and local procedures." Kostecki at 3 citing Jensen v. Volvay Chems., Inc. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri ruled, "For each claim, Kostecki seeks some form of equitable relief. These claims do not merely seek review of the Defendant's denial of Plan benefits. Instead, they are in a category of ERISA-related claims that warrants discovery outside the administrative record and in accordance with the scope of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (b). " See the link on our website of Kotstecki v. The Prudential Insurance Company and AB for the whole case.

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