Abstract: On June 22, 2011, in Cyr v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that a third-party insurer is a proper defendant in an ERISA action, and that potential liability under ERISA is not limited to the benefits plan itself or the designated plan administrator. In doing so, the court increased protections for benefit plan participants and gave third-party insurers and employers incentives to act fairly and responsibly when deciding employee claims. Accordingly, this Comment argues that the Cyr approach, compared to approaches taken by other circuits, most closely reflects the legislative intent behind ERISA to protect American workers’ benefits in a uniform manner.
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