October 9, 2013
Authored by: Denise Erwin
In Hardt v Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 130 S. Ct. 2149 (2010) , the United States Supreme Court rejected the “prevailing party” standard for awarding attorney’s fees under ERISA. Instead, a party moving for an attorney’s fee award must demonstrate “some degree of success on the merits.” But what exactly does this standard mean? Although not required, a favorable court judgment will qualify while a “trivial success” or a “purely procedural victory” will not pass muster. But how will these terms be interpreted and how will the standard be applied to the myriad of potential litigation outcomes which fall somewhere in the gray area in between?
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently applied this standard in the context of a voluntary settlement in Scarangella v. Group Health, Inc. This case involved a claim for medical benefits under an ERISA plan