ERISA-Seventh Circuit Dismisses Case Since Plaintiffs Failed To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

In Orr v. Assurant Employee Benefits, No. 14-2370 (7th Cir. 2015), the plaintiffs, Danielle and Hailey Orr, are the daughters of Daniel Orr, who died in a motorcycle accident on August 7, 2012. As Daniel Orr’s beneficiaries, Danielle and Hailey filed claims seeking benefits payable under a Group Life Insurance Policy, which is governed by ERISA, and which Union Security Insurance Company (“USIC”) issued to Daniel Orr’s former employer, Modern 1 Group of Companies, LLC. USIC denied the claim, and the Orrs brought this suit. The district court granted summary judgment against the Orrs, on the grounds that they had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to bringing the suit. The Orrs appeal.

Upon reviewing the case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) agreed with the district court that the Orrs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit. USIC’s “Life Claims Denial Review Procedure” requires that a claimant seeking review of a claim denial complete two levels of internal review prior to filing a lawsuit. The Procedure unmistakably requires the claimant to submit a request for review in writing, which the Orrs failed to do. Also, the Orrs failed to show why the failure to exhaust administrative remedies should be excused. As such, the Court upheld the district court’s summary judgment.

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