Appeals Cases

As you can see from the list below, I do a lot of appeals work. Sometimes I file the appeal because I couldn’t convince the trial court to do the right thing. Other times I am asked to assist by other lawyers when they got a bad ruling:

Opeta v. Northewest Airlines Pension Plan
Green v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada
Davis v. First Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company
Kolano v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Baboudjian v. Continental Casualty Company
City of Long Beach v. Insurance Company St. of Penn.

Kerilei Oldoerp v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
This is a short and unpublished but very important decision. It held, for the first time in the Ninth Circuit, that a discretionary clause that was contained in a document outside the actual Plan was not effective.

More importantly from Ms. Oldoerp’s perspective, it was an important step in the road to getting Met Life to pay the benefits to which she was entitled.

Trial findings and conclusions
Trial Appeal Decision.

Mark Griffioen, et al. V. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company, et al.
This case involves the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The plaintiffs are property owners in Cedar Rapids who claim that Union Pacific and another railroad parked laden railcars on rail bridges spanning the Cedar River in advance of a flood. The river waters overtopped the bridges so the cars acted like a dam, preventing the water from flowing down river and instead diverting it into downtown Cedar Rapids. Then one of the bridges collapsed, which caused additional flooding.

Union Pacific claimed that all plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by federal law and removed the case to federal court. Because of my ERISA background I do a lot of work in the field of federal preemption, so I was asked to help out.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in our favor, agreeing with plaintiffs that the federal law did not “completely preempt” the Iowa state claims. As such, the federal courts did not have jurisdiction over the case and it was remanded back to Iowa state courts, where it belongs.

Griffioen Eighth Circuit Opinion


© 2015 The Law Offices of Russell G. Petti