April 3, 2014

Riemer Convinces Federal Court to Award $97,354.80 in Attorney Fees

On March 27, 2014, the United States District Court in Manhattan awarded Mr. Riemer's client $97,354.80 in attorney fees. The Court awarded all attorney fees requested. In weighing the factors for deciding if attorney fees should be awarded, the Court found that the degree of culpability, deterrence, and the relative merits of the case favor plaintiff.

For a copy of the decision,Download file.

December 17, 2013

Riemer Volunteers at the MS Society Legal Day

On Sunday, December 15, 2013, attorney Scott M. Riemer volunteered at the Legal Day of the New York City Chapter of the MS Society. The Legal Day is an annual event that permits individuals suffering from Multiple Sclerosis to obtain legal help from a group of volunteer lawyers of various specialties. This year, because of the snow storm, participating individuals received telephone consultations instead of face-to-face meetings. Mr. Riemer has been volunteering for the MS Society Legal Day for over 10 years.

If you would like to participate next year at the Legal Day of the New York City Chapter, click here.

November 12, 2012

Riemer Volunteers at MS Society Legal Day

On Sunday, November 11, 2012, Scott M. Riemer volunteered at the Legal Day of the New York City Chapter of the MS Society. The Legal Day provides the opportunity for individuals suffering from Multiple Sclerosis to meet with lawyers of various specialties to discuss legal issues. Mr. Riemer met with individuals pertaining to long term disability claims. Mr. Riemer has been a participant at the MS Society Legal Day for over 10 years.

For more information about the MS Society's Legal Day, please click here.http://http://www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/nyn/programsandservices/legal-services/index.aspx

September 11, 2012

Riemer Speaks at Lyme Disease Conference in Boston

On November 2-4, 2012, The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society held its annual conference in Boston. Mr. Riemer co-hosted a medical legal seminar on the disability process with two other attorneys. Mr. Riemer addressed the who, what, where, why, when and how of disability claims involving Lyme Disease.

For more information about the conference and ILADS, click here.

September 10, 2012

Riemer Obtains Important Victory Against Prudential Holding Insurers More Accountable

On August 28, 2012, the federal court in Manhattan held that de novo is the appropriate standard of judicial review for disability insurance claims denied by Prudential Insurance Company. This ruling is the first of its kind within the Second Circuit. The decision effectively makes it more difficult for Prudential to deny valid disability claims brought by disabled individuals in New York.

In the case, Prudential argued that the language in their “Summary of Plan Description” (SPD) should be used to determine the appropriate standard of review, rather than the plain language of the actual insurance policy. The SPD contains language granting Prudential the right to discretionary authority in determining the eligibility for benefits. Prudential asserted that this language entitled it to the “arbitrary and capricious" standard of review, which is a very high standard giving great deference to Prudential's determinations. Riemer & Associates, however, convinced the court that de novo was the more appropriate standard of review, allowing the Court to more thoroughly review Prudential's determination without giving it deference.

The Court's decision helps level the playing field. Individuals victimized by Prudential's arbitrary claim denials can now more effectively litigate their claims in New York and Connecticut under a much more appropriate standard of judicial review. Through the Court's decision, Riemer & Associates is forcing insurance companies to be held more accountable when deciding disability claims.

Click here to view the Court's decision in full: Download file

For more information explaining how (ERISA) governs the content and distribution of SPD’s, please click http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fserisa.html">here.

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June 10, 2010

Riemer Speaks at Pension Rights Center Conference

Scott M. Riemer was one of the principal presenters at the "ERISA Basics" conference held by the Pension Rights Center, on June 10, 2010. Mr. Riemer's topic was "Disability Claims under ERISA."

The Conference was held at the offices at Legal Services NYC. The attendees were predominately public service attorneys.

December 17, 2009

Disability claims are up 30%!

MSNBC reported today that disability filings are up 30% in the last two years as a result of the poor economy. Click here

At Riemer & Associates, we are experiencing the same trend. As a result, we are adding staff in order to service the increased workload. We are also moving our offices to a larger suite. Our new address as of January 1, 2010 is Riemer & Associates, LLC., 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 1750, New York, New York, 10165.

It has been our experience that there are many individuals with chronic illnesses who are having increasing difficulty in managing the increased demands and pressures of the current business environment. We help these individuals with their exit from work and assist them in completing the paperwork required for a disability claim.

For more information about our claim services, click here.

August 14, 2009

Riemer Speaks at Prestigious Disability Conference

On June 15, 2009, Scott M. Riemer was one of the featured speakers at the 12th National Advanced Forum on Resolving Disability Insurance Claims & Litigation in Boston. The conference was sponsored by the American Conference Institute. The conference included speakers who are leading plaintiff and defense lawyers as well as top medical experts. The topic of Mr. Riemer's discussion was "The Impact of MetLife v. Glenn on the Standard of Review and Discovery." Please take a look at ACI's website for more information, http://www.americanconference.com/Home.htm.

Click here for a copy of the conference brochure:
http://www.americanconference.com/litigation/Litigating_Disability_Insurance_Claims.htm

Last year, Scott M. Riemer spoke at the 11th National Advanced Forum in Boston. The topic of his discussion at that conference was "Standard of Review in ERISA Litigation in Light of MetLife v. Glenn."

April 17, 2009

Riemer Convinces Court to Award Wide-Ranging Discovery against Hartford

In Jacoby v. Hartford, 254 F.R.D. 477 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), the Federal District in New York City ordered Hartford to produce thousands of pages of documents pertaining to Hartford’s inherent conflict of interest. Rejecting Hartford’s claims of confidentiality and burdensomeness, the Court ordered Hartford to respond to plaintiff’s interrogatories and document demands, including the full production of Hartford’s BMS Claims Manual and SIU Reference Manual. The Court also rejected Hartford’s claim that documents held by its consulting firms Medical Advisory Group and University Disability Consortium were not within its “possession, custody or control.”

This decision is a valuable precedent because it provides a possible solution to the dilemma of being whipsawed between the insurance company and its consultants. When seeking documents, each entity claims that the other has the sole duty of producing the requested documents. In this case, the Court rejected Hartford's assertion that the documents held by its consultants, Medical Advisory Group and University Disability Consortium were outside Hartford's control. The Court ordered Hartford to use its influence with its consultants to obtain the requested documents. The Court held:

In these circumstances, Hartford is directed to cause the production of the requested materials that are in the hands of UDC and MAG. Should it fail to do so, and should plaintiff press the point, a hearing concerning the relationships between Hartford and each of these entities and the nature of Hartford's efforts to secure their cooperation could prove necessary.
December 3, 2008

Riemer Selected to Receive the Public Education Award of the NYC Chapter of the MS Society

On January 12, 2009, Scott M. Riemer will receive the Public Education award of the New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Award is to salute Mr. Riemer for his volunteer services for Chapter members and for his pro bono efforts to make the procedures used for long-term disability insurance more equitable for those disabled by multiple sclerosis.

The Award will be presented at the Chapter's Annual Meeting and dinner to be held at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on January 12, 2009.

For more information about the NYC Chapter of the National MS Society, please click here: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/NYN/index.aspx

November 7, 2008

Riemer Speaks at ERISA Benefit Litigation Conference Sponsored by ALI-ABA

On December 2, 2008, Scott M. Riemer spoke at the ALI-ABA conference on "ERISA Benefit Litigation: From Pilot Life and Firestone to Glenn--Where are We Now." The conference was a Live Video Webcast from ALI-ABA's headquarters in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Riemer represented the plaintiff's perspective on two ERISA litigation topics: "Procedural Nuts and Bolts;" and "Substantial Benefit Claims." Deidre A. Grossman, Esq. of Proskauer Rose LLP represented the defense perspective.

For more information on the conference, please go to the ALI-ABA website: http://www.ali-aba.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=courses.course&course_code=CP620

November 4, 2008

Riemer Details the MetLife v. Glenn Paradigm Shift

On November 3, 2008, Scott M. Riemer appeared as a Panelist at the NY, NJ and CT Regional Conference of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers. The College is a non-profit professional association honoring the leading lawyers nationwide in the practice of labor and employment law. Mr. Riemer highlighted four paradigm shifts in ERISA law as a result of the Supreme Court's recent case MetLife v. Glenn:

1. Glenn describes a "combination-of-factors method of review" in order to determine whether a defendant has "abused its discretion." It does not describe the standard as the "arbitrary and capricious" standard of review. This represents a shift from the arbitrary and capricious standard of review, which has its basis in administrative law, to the abuse of discretion standard, which has its basis in trust law. This shift is important to claimants because trust law calls for much more scrutiny of a defendant's determination than administrative law.

2. Glenn establishes for the first time a priority of the competing goals and purposes of ERISA. Prior to Glenn, Courts have restricted discovery and judicial review on the grounds that extensive proceedings were inconsistent with ERISA's goals to: (a) avoid complex review proceedings; (b) avoid deterring employers from setting up benefit plans; and (c) allowing employers to administer their own plans. The Glenn Court held, "As to all three [of those goals] taken together, we believe them outweighed by Congress' desire to offer employees enhanced protection for their benefits." Courts will now focus more on protecting the rights of employees.

3. Glenn shifts the presumption that a tie goes to the defendant. Glenn holds that a defendant's conflict of interest could "act as a tiebreaker when the other factors are closely balanced." This is hugely important to claimants because in many of the cases that make it to litigation the other factors are closely balanced. Thus, instead of a victory in favor of defendant, Glenn supports a victory in favor of the claimant.

4. Glenn specified that there should be no "special burden-of-proof rules, or other special procedural or evidentiary rules, focused narrowly upon the evaluator/payor conflict." Prior to Glenn, the Courts established elaborate procedures for dealing with a defendant's conflict of interest. These rules often made it difficult for a claimant to present the insurer's conflict of interest as an issue in the case.

As a result of these paradigm shifts, the law will enter a period of uncertainty as the lower courts parse through what is still good law. Overall, however, Glenn appears to be very good news for claimants. Claimants will be provided with increased discovery and Courts will provide much closer scrutiny of insurance company determinations.

July 20, 2008

Scott M. Riemer served as Faculty Member at PLI live webcast on MetLife v. Glenn

On July 17, 2008, Scott M. Riemer served as a faculty member on a live webcast sponsored by the Practicing Law Institute. The topic of the webcast was the "A New Firestone Drill under ERISA: MetLife v. Glenn." Please take a look at PLI's website for more information. http://www.pli.edu/product/webcast_detail.asp?id=49490

On June 19, 2008, the Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in MetLife v. Glenn. The Supreme Court held that Courts must consider an insurer's conflict of interest as one of the factors when deciding whether an insurer's determination was an abuse of discretion. Most importantly, the Supreme Court established that the conflict of interest may serve as a tiebreaker when the other factors are closely balanced. As a practical matter, this could have a huge impact. Prior to MetLife v. Glenn, close cases usually were decided in favor of the insurance company. Now, the opposite may prove true. Stay tuned. The next few years of litigation will be quite interesting.

April 8, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis Society (NYC Chapter) files Amicus Brief in MetLife v. Glenn

On March 27, 2008, Scott M. Riemer filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NYC Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the case of MetLife v. Glenn, now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and waiting for oral argument on April 23, 2008. The brief of the Chapter was proudly filed on a pro bono basis by Riemer & Associates, LLC and Jonathan Feigenbaum.

MetLife v. Glenn is a potentially landmark case, which will address how much deference, if any, a court should give the determination of an insurance company that has an inherent conflict of interest, i.e., when the insurance company both decides claims and pays benefits.

The Chapter's brief argues that Article III of the Constitution requires that Ms. Glenn receive a de novo plenary proceeding; that granting any level of deference to the determination of a conflicted insurance company would constitute an unconstitutional relegation of judicial power.

A copy of the brief could be obtained by clicking here. Download file

October 25, 2007

Scott M. Riemer Lectures at Long Term Disability Workshop

On October 24, 2007, I lectured at a Special Workshop on long term disability benefits held in the New York City offices of Friends in Deed. The title of the lecture was "Long-Term Disability Benefits in Danger: Disturbing Trends and Dirty Tricks. This was in conjunction with Per Larson, a financial planner. Friends in Deed is a nonprofit organization in New York City that serves as a crisis center for individuals suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Their website is located at www.friendsindeed.org.

At the workshop, I focussed on the top ten sleezy practices of disability insurance companies. They are:
1. Losing your documents.
2. Misrepresenting conversations with your doctor.
3. Cherrypicking your medical records.
4. Requesting Functional Capacity Evaluations that have no scientific validity.
5. Insisting on objective evidence of pain and fatigue.
6. Evaluating your claim solely on the basis of a "peer review."
7. Characterizing your occupation as sedentary and ignoring its cognitive demands.
8. Moving the goal posts.
9. Putting a wedge between you and your doctor.
10. Pressuring an insured to take a low lump sum settlement.

For more information on the sleezy practices of insurance companies, please see the obtaining benefits section of our website.

June 7, 2007

Scott M. Riemer Lectures at ACI Conference on Disability Litigation

On June 7, 2007, I lectured at the 10th National Advanced Forum on Resolving Disability Insurance Claims & Litigation in Boston. The conference is sponsored by the American Conference Institute. The conference included speakers who are leading plaintiff and defense lawyers as well as top medical experts. The topic of my discussion was "Developments in ERISA Claims Handling and Litigation." Attending the conference are plaintiffs and defense lawyers as well as insurance company claims managers. Please take a look at ACI's website for more information, http://americanconference.com

Click here for a copy of the conference brochure:
Download file

Last year, Scott M. Riemer spoke at the 9th National Advanced Forum in Miami. The topic of his discussion at that conference was "Litigating ERISA Disability Claims: Applicability, Discovery and Other Critical Issues."

May 17, 2007

Vasculitis Foundation Invites Scott M. Riemer to be Guest Speaker at Membership Meeting

Scott M. Riemer appeared as the guest speaker at the membership meeting of the Greater New York Chapter of the Vasculitis Foundation held on May 17, 2007. Mr. Riemer addressed potential pitfalls claimants could face when applying for long term disability benefits, particularly with respect to the family of diseases comprising vasculitis. The following diseases comprise vasculitis:

* Behcet's Disease
* Buerger’s Disease
* Central Nervous System
* Churg Strauss Syndrome
* Cryoglobulinemia
* Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis)
* Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
* Hypersensitivity Vasculitis
* Kawasaki Disease
* Microscopic Polyangiitis
* Polyarteritis Nodosa
* Polymyalgia rheumatica
* Rheumatoid Vasculitis
* Takayasu’s Arteritis
* Wegener's Granulomatosis

For more information about vasculitis, please visit the website of the Vasculitis Foundation.

February 8, 2007

Special Workshop on Long Term Disability Benefits

On February 7, 2007, I lectured at a Special Workshop on long term disability benefits held in the New York City offices of Friends in Deed. The title of the lecture was "Long-Term Disability Benefits in Danger: Disturbing Trends and Dirty Tricks. This was in conjunction with Per Larson, a financial planner. Friends in Deed is a nonprofit organization in New York City that serves as a crisis center for individuals suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Their website is located at www.friendsindeed.org.

At the workshop, I focussed on the top ten sleezy practices of disability insurance companies. They are:
1. Losing your documents.
2. Misrepresenting conversations with your doctor.
3. Cherrypicking your medical records.
4. Requesting Functional Capacity Evaluations that have no scientific validity.
5. Insisting on objective evidence of pain and fatigue.
6. Evaluating your claim solely on the basis of a "peer review."
7. Characterizing your occupation as sedentary and ignoring its cognitive demands.
8. Moving the goal posts.
9. Putting a wedge between you and your doctor.
10. Pressuring an insured to take a low lump sum settlement.

For more information on the sleezy practices of insurance companies, please see the obtaining benefits section of our website.