ERISA’s Outer Limits—The Admissibility of Extrinsic Evidence in Denied Claims for Plan Benefits

Reprinted from Benefits Law Journal Winter 2011, Volume 24, Number 4, pages 75-88, with permission from Aspen Publishers, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, New York, NY.

Cue music. Scene: Federal district court, Anywhere, USA. A young lawyer, Steve Jones, represents Sophie Smith, who lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. She has filed suit because Defiant Insurance has denied her claim for Accidental Death benefits. According to Defiant, Sophie’s claim fails because Mr. Smith’s use of the prescription drug, Coumadin, an oral anticoagulant, was a contributing factor to his death.