Explain what factors does the court consider in deciding whether a plan administrator has abused his or her discretion in denying a benefit claim?

Court case #1 Helton v. AT&T
709 F.3d 343 (4th Cir. 2013)
1. What are the legal issues in this case? What did the appeals court decide?
2. Why is the question of whether courts should consider “extrinsic evidence” significant in this type of case? What does the appeals court conclude about the consideration of such evidence?
3. What factors does the court consider in deciding whether a plan administrator has abused his or her discretion in denying a benefit claim? How were the factors in the case applied to the facts in this case?
4. How were ERISA’s reporting and disclosure requirements violated in this case?
5. Do you agree with the court’s decision? Why or why not?
Court case #2 MasTec Advancement Technologies
357 NLRB No. 17 (2011)
1. What are the legal issues in this case? What did the appeals court decide?
2. What was the concerted activity in which the technicians engaged? What made that activity “concerted”?
3. Why was this activity “protected”?
4. What if the companies had shown that they suffered substantial losses in sales and revenues stemming from the news program? Would that have made a difference in the outcome of this case? Why or why not?
5. Do you agree with the court’s decision? Why or why not?

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