Fourth Circuit Endorses Rule 52 for Resolving ERISA Benefit Claim Cases with Factual Disputes

This article originally appeared in the March 2023 edition of The Brief Case, DRI’s monthly newsletter.

Amid a circuit split, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit) has firmly taken a side as to its treatment of benefit claim denials brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). In Tekmen v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, 55 F.4th 951 (4th Cir. 2022), the Fourth Circuit endorsed seeking judgment, not via summary judgment or a quasi-summary judgment procedure, but through Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52 if the case involves de novo review of a benefit claim with factual disputes. Rule 52 allows a court to conduct a “trial on the papers” and thus issue findings of fact and conclusions of law.

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About Author: Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Jones advocates for clients in a broad range of ERISA-related matters in federal courts throughout the country. She is co-leader of the firm’s ERISA litigation team, and a member of the benefits and executive compensation practice group. View all posts by and

About Author: Dona Trnovska

Dona Trnovska helps clients as they navigate the ever-changing landscape of the insurance industry and assists them in disputes related to claims obligations, policy lapses, annuity transactions, bad faith and fraud claims. Dona helped obtain summary judgment on behalf of a defendant-insurer regarding an issue of first impression related to allegations of improper underwriting discrimination. She also helps defend insurers, global service and technology industry clients in matters related to complex commercial litigation and product liability disputes. View all posts by and

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