Glocker v. W. R. Grace & Co.

68 F.3d 460 (1995)

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Glocker v. W. R. Grace & Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
68 F.3d 460 (1995)

Facts

Edwin Glocker retired in 1973 and was entitled to medical benefits supplied by his employer, W. R. Grace & Company and its insurer, Aetna Insurance Company (collectively, Grace) (defendants). Edwin was hospitalized in 1988 with advanced prostate cancer and hired private-duty nurses to help care for him at the recommendation of his physician. After Edwin died, his wife, Elma Glocker (plaintiff), filed a claim through the health plan for reimbursement of the private-duty nurse costs. Grace denied the request because custodial care was not covered by the plan. Elma filed suit in federal district court, initially claiming improper denial of benefits. To prepare, Elma requested all policy documents for the medical plan from Grace. Grace had difficulty producing all of the relevant documents due to its large number of files and expansive filing system. After 18 months and 16 requests, Elma’s attorney filed a motion to compel Grace to produce the documents and amended the initial complaint to include a claim for civil penalties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In response, Grace produced the documents. The district court granted summary judgment to Grace, finding that Grace had not abused its discretion in denying benefits and that civil penalties were not appropriate. Elma appealed to the Fourth Circuit, and the case was remanded for the district court to examine the denial of benefits de novo and to reconsider civil penalties. The district court again found for Grace and denied Elma’s claim for civil penalties. Elma again appealed to the Fourth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Butzner, J.)

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