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Mike Reilly is a nationally recognized labor, employment and employee benefits attorney, named one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys in the Nation” for the past five consecutive years by Human Resource Executive®. He has decades of experience providing strategic employment advice, and has represented clients in more than 75 jury trials, arbitrations, bench trials and claims before the EEOC and Washington State Human Rights Commission.

Small and large employers retain Mike for his strategic advice and decades of experience in employment issues and litigation, business decisions and litigation avoidance. Mike provides advice in claims involving discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, disability accommodation, ERISA and non-ERISA employee benefit claims, and wage/hour claims. He served as lead counsel in an employee raiding/trade secret case as reported in the Wall Street Journal, and defends employers in class action claims.

Mike’s remarks on employment issues have been quoted in NewsweekCorporate Legal TimesSeattle TimesEmployee Relations Law JournalPuget Sound Business JournalCFO.com, and other professional journals and management publications. Chambers USA’s Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Businessrates Mike in the top ranking (band one) for his work in labor and employment law, and has described him as “one of Seattle’s top-rate attorneys” who is “truly phenomenal [with] superb legal instincts” and “an amazingly assertive litigator.” His clients include Nordstrom, Seattle Seahawks, Home Depot, KeyBank, Starbucks, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Red Robin and Seattle Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Can the ERISA claims administrator “cure” inadequacies, made during its initial claim denial, during the appeal process? Yes.

Did a claims administrator’s recommendation, that a claimant receive a job-accommodation, constitute sufficient proof of disability?  No.

This new case highlights these issues: Canter v. AT&T Umbrella Benefit Plan No. 3, 33 F.

What is the most efficient way to invite the district court to resolve ERISA-benefit claims?

What’s the difference between using Rule 56 motions for summary judgment, versus a Rule 52 Motion for Judgment?

This new case highlights why Rule 52 motions may be the preferred motion to efficiently resolve ERISA benefit claims.  Avenoso v. Reliance

What happens when an ERISA-governed disability claim is denied solely under the “own occupation” provision, but a reviewing district court concludes the claimant is entitled to “own” occupation benefits?

Does an insurer “waive” an evaluation of the “any occupation” provision because the insurer denied the claim solely on the “own occupation” standard? NO.

Can the

You already know that many state laws ban the “abuse of discretion” standard of review in denials of ERISA-governed long term disability benefits.

But self-funded ERISA plans may still apply the discretionary standard of review.

And “incorporating by reference” the Summary Plan Description (SPD) is effective in making the SPD part of the ERISA plan.

We all are seeing more “breach of fiduciary duty claims” asserted in lawsuits seeking ERISA-governed benefits.  As you know, ERISA allows participants, beneficiaries, and the Secretary of Labor to obtain relief against ERISA fiduciaries for breaching the fiduciary duties they owe to the plan or its participants. ERISA fiduciaries can also be liable under §

You know that a claimant must exhaust administrative remedies before filing a suit. But is an appeal “optional” when the denial letter says that claimant “may request a second level review”? NO.

And what’s with 502(a)(3) breach of fiduciary claims anyway?  “‘[A] review of the [ERISA] legislative history confirms that Congress did

What happens when the ERISA claimant files suit after the disability claim has been denied, and then the ERISA claims administrator reinstates benefits retroactively?

Doesn’t reinstatement “moot” the issues in the lawsuit, or make claims regarding future benefits unripe — requiring dismissal of the suit? YES it should.

And a Plaintiff’s decision to

You know that claims administrators retain experts to review a claimant’s medical and mental health condition to assess whether a claimant is sufficiently impaired to be eligible for disability benefits.

But what happens when the claimant argues that a medical opinion should be rejected due to the sheer volume of opinions the expert has provided