Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fifth Circuit Panel Awards Summary Judgment for Non-Moving Party

Per: Robinson v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., --- F.3d ----, 2006 WL 620707 (5th Cir. Mar. 14, 2006):

Although Robinson did not move for summary judgment in the district court, we have the authority to grant judgment in his favor. See Black Warrior Elec. Membership Corp. v. Mississippi Power, 413 F.2d 1221, 1226 (5th Cir.1969); Matter of Continental Airlines, 981 F.2d 1450, 1458 (5th Cir.1993) (“This court has the power to render summary judgment for a nonmoving party ····”) Awarding judgment to a party that did not move for summary judgment below is proper where (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact and (2) the opposing party has had a full opportunity to (a) brief the legal issues and (b) develop a record. See Monumental Life Ins. v. Hayes-Jenkins, 403 F.3d 304, 315 n. 21 (5th Cir.2005).

First, there is no genuine issue of material fact here. We have concluded both that Aetna failed to substantially comply with ERISA procedures and that Aetna abused its discretion by terminating Robinson's benefits. Second, Aetna was required to develop its factual record at the administrative level. See Vega, 188 F.3d at 302. Lastly, Aetna fully briefed the relevant legal issues both before this Court and below. . . .


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