Ninth Circuit Reminds Us of Federal Fee-Shifting Provision in Remanding Case on Appeal.
In Pannebecker v. Liberty Life Assur. Co. of Boston, Case No. 06-16654 (9th Cir. Sept. 18, 2008), the Ninth Circuit remanded an ERISA case after determining that the appellant did establish rights to benefits for a period of time. Because this demonstrated that appellant achieved some success, remand was required for the district court to consider whether attorney’s fees were awardable to appellant.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has a provision that allows a court in its discretion to award attorney’s fees to either party in an ERISA action. 29 U.S.C. sec. 1132(g)(1). Appellant’s gain of benefit reinstatement for some period meant that the district judge needed to evaluate whether fees should be awarded to her on remand.