Judge v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., No. 12-1092 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Judge, who worked as an airline baggage handler and ramp agent for 20 years, underwent surgery to repair an aortic valve and a dilated ascending aorta. He applied for disability benefits under a group insurance policy issued by MetLife. MetLife denied benefits, finding that Judge was not totally and permanently disabled under the terms of the Plan. After exhausting internal administrative procedures, Judge sued to recover benefits under 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The district court granted judgment on the administrative record in favor of MetLife. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that MetLife applied the wrong definition of “total disability,” erred in failing to obtain vocational evidence before concluding that Judge was not totally and permanently disabled, erred in conducting a file review by a nurse in lieu of having Judge undergo independent medical examination, and that there was a conflict of interest because MetLife both evaluates claims and pays benefits under the plan.