Fifth Circuit Clarifies When a Plan Participant Can Obtain Attorneys’ Fees under ERISA
The Fifth Circuit just helped clarify when a plan participant can recover attorneys’ fees following a procedural remand of an ERISA claim for benefits. In Ariana M v. Humana Health Plan of Texas, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim for benefits and remanded for the district court to reevaluate under a new legal standard. The plaintiff sought to recover attorney’s fees under ERISA § 502(g). Relying on the Supreme Court’s precedent that a plan participant must have “some degree of success on the merits” to be entitled to fees, the Fifth Circuit noted that the plaintiff’s success on appeal was “a purely procedural victory.” On that basis, the court denied the request for attorney’s fees, and did not comment on the merits of the plaintiff’s claim.