ERISA-Seventh Circuit Upholds District Court's Award Of Statutory Penalties For Failure To Timely Provide Plan Documents

December 19, 2012

In Mondry v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Nos. 10-3409 and 11-1750 (7th Cir. 2012), the plaintiff, Sharon Mondry ("Mondry"), was appealing the amount of the statutory penalties granted to her by the district court. In this case, after obtaining benefits from her employer's group health plan (the "Plan")-in the form of reimbursement for the cost of her son's speech therapy-Mondry had brought suit against her employer, American Family Mutual Insurance Company ("American Family"), under section 104(b)(4) of ERISA for the failure to produce documents relevant to the Plan benefits within 30 days of her request. The district court had awarded Mondry statutory penalties of $9,270 on her claim.

In analyzing the case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (the "Court") noted that the district court had awarded Mondry penalties of $30 per day for delays totaling 309 days in producing two documents, which were subject to section 104(b)(4) production because they were interpretive documents. Here, the 309 day period had begun 30 days after Mondry specifically requested those particular documents. The Court also noted that the district court granted no damages for the failure to produce a third document, since the district court had found that Mondry never requested it. The Court found no error or abuse of discretion in the amount of the statutory penalties awarded by the district court, and thus affirmed the district court's award.