From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

Rorabaugh v. Continental Casualty

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Apr 13, 2009
321 F. App'x 708 (9th Cir. 2009)

Summary

holding that the court may accept parties' stipulation to de novo review

Summary of this case from Wise v. Maximus Fed. Servs.

Opinion

Nos. 07-55286, 07-55492.

Argued and Submitted March 5, 2009.

Filed April 13, 2009.

Corinne Chandler, Esq., Kantor Kantor, LLP, Northridge, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Robert F. Keehn, Esq., Galton Helm, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendants-Appellants.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Audrey B. Collins, Chief District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-05-03612-ABC.

Before: FERNANDEZ and PAEZ, Circuit Judges, and HOGAN, District Judge.

The Honorable Michael R. Hogan, United States District Judge for the District of Oregon, sitting by designation.


MEMORANDUM

This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited except as provided by 9th Cir. R. 36-3.

Defendants Continental Casualty Company et al. appeal the judgment of the district court in favor of plaintiff Willow Rorabaugh on her claim for long term disability plan benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq.

1. Defendants waived their right to appeal the district court's choice of the de novo standard of review by filing a stipulation to the standard and reiterating the stipulation in their trial memorandum. Ritchie v. United States, 451 F.3d 1019, 1026 n. 12 (9th Cir. 2006). Defendants' authority, Regula v. Delta Family-Care Disability Survivorship Plan, 266 F.3d 1130, 1138 (9th Cir. 2001), judgment vacated on other grounds, 539 U.S. 901, 123 S.Ct. 2267, 156 L.Ed.2d 109 (2003), does not require that we ignore the stipulation. In Regula we declined to adhere to the parties' stipulation to abuse of discretion review because the stipulation did not disclose whether the parties intended highly deferential or less deferential abuse of discretion review. Id. at 1139. Defendants' stipulation to de novo review presents no such concern.

2. Defendants waived their right to appeal the admission of Dr. Marks's deposition testimony by failing to raise an objection in the district court, and by relying on the evidence in their trial memorandum. Ritchie, 451 F.3d at 1026 n. 12.

3. On de novo review, the district court permissibly credited the opinions of Rorabaugh's treating physicians. Defendants are correct that "plan administrators are not obliged to accord special deference to the opinions of treating physicians." Black Decker Disability Plan v. Nord, 538 U.S. 822, 825, 123 S.Ct. 1965, 155 L.Ed.2d 1034 (2003). Contrary to defendants' argument, however, the record does not show that the district court gave "special deference to the opinions of [Rorabaugh's] treating physicians." Id.

4. The district court's determination that Rorabaugh is totally disabled within the meaning of the long term disability plan is not clearly erroneous. See Deegan v. Cont'l Cos. Co., 167 F.3d 502, 508-09 (9th Cir. 1999). The medical records (including the functional assessment tool completed by Dr. Dyes), the physical demands analysis submitted by Rorabaugh's employer, and the plan summary's definition of "total disability," constitute reasonable bases for the determination of total disability.

5. By failing to raise the matter before the district court, defendants waived their right to appeal the award of benefits through the date of the judgment. Ritchie, 451 F.3d at 1026 n. 12.

6. Rorabaugh's request for attorney fees is premature. Rorabaugh may file a separate request for attorney fees under 9th Cir. R. 39-1.6.

AFFIRMED.


Summaries of

Rorabaugh v. Continental Casualty

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Apr 13, 2009
321 F. App'x 708 (9th Cir. 2009)

holding that the court may accept parties' stipulation to de novo review

Summary of this case from Wise v. Maximus Fed. Servs.

holding that the court may accept parties stipulation to de novo review

Summary of this case from Wise v. Maximus Fed. Servs.

stating that the court may accept the parties' stipulation to de novo review

Summary of this case from Todd R. v. Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield Alaska

stating that a court may accept the parties' stipulation to de novo review

Summary of this case from LaVertu v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am.
Case details for

Rorabaugh v. Continental Casualty

Case Details

Full title:Willow RORABAUGH, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CONTINENTAL CASUALTY COMPANY, et…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Date published: Apr 13, 2009

Citations

321 F. App'x 708 (9th Cir. 2009)

Citing Cases

Todd R. v. Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield Alaska

) The court accepts the parties' position and reviews the record de novo. See Rorabaugh v. Cont'l Cas. Co.,…

Rabbat v. Standard Ins. Co.

Dkt. 16. The court accepts the parties' stipulation and reviews the record de novo. See Rorabaugh v. Cont'l…