The American Conference Institute assembles a yearly “defending against ERISA claims” conference usually held in New York City. This year’s conference is at the New York Marriott Downtown.
If you have Multiple Sclerosis or any other disease that forced you to fight for your benefits because companies like CIGNA lied (not hyperbole) to prevent your claim, then you know all about ERISA or the Employment and Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Unfortunately, ERISA has had negative consequences. A full explanation, written by an ERISA expert, can be found here.
But you may not know that the very same federal judges who may hear your case attend these conferences where they help coach insurance companies, plan providers and other attorneys on how to defend against ERISA claims. In other words, how to make sure a company like CIGNA doesn’t have to fulfill their contractual obligations and pay your claim. From the conference brochure:
An ERISA Moot Court: Featuring top defense attorneys arguing some of the hottest and most common issues facing ERISA practitioners today, panels of renowned ERISA jurists will critique arguments, question our litigators and help all attendees understand how to successfully convey their positions to the court.
The federal judges, the ones deciding your cases, are going to going to participate in a moot court to help defend against ERISA claims? How does that square with remaining impartial as part of the judges’s code of conduct? And our favorite here at the MS Activism Foundation:
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: A Focus on Severance Plan Litigation including Triggering Events, COBRA Hang-Ups, and the Other Litigation Issues that Arise in Separation Situations.
CIGNA had a big loss this year in CIGNA v. Amara, even though they are spinning it otherwise, so of course, CIGNA’s senior counsel, Christina McNally will be in attendance at the conference.
Fidelity Investments, my husband’s former employer, is listed on the last page as being in attendance as well. I could not find a name though. Last year it was their very own senior counsel, (and Paul’s fellow Boston College alum) Laura Tholen.
Here are the names and districts of all the federal judges who are attending this year’s conference. And here is a link to the PDF of the 2011 conference. If you are fighting for your claim, and see your judge, send them a letter. Tell them that you know what they’re doing and that it certainly does not appear impartial.
Here are the Codes of Conduct for United States Judges and be sure to ask about CANON 3: A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE FAIRLY, IMPARTIALLY AND DILIGENTLY.
Hon. Daniel E. Knowles, III U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. La.
Hon. Morton Denlow U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.
Hon. Matthew Kennelly U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.
Hon. William S. Duffey, Jr. U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ga.
Hon. Viktor Pohorelsky U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D.N.Y.
Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Mo.
Hon. Timothy C. Batten, Sr.U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ga.
Hon. Robert Jonker U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Mo. (I think the American Conference Institute meant MI not MO.)
Hon. Richard G. Stearns U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Mass.
Hon. John Coughenour U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Wash.