Satisfaction of claims during litigation means employee's appeal is moot
Case name: Coryell v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 08-2244 (7th Cir. 05/11/09, unpublished).
In an unpublished decision, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the employee's case as moot, finding the relief he demanded had been granted in the lower court.
What it means: When a former worker stands to gain nothing more from an appeal regarding the terms of his settlement agreement, a court may dismiss his case as moot.
Summary: A former employee was injured on the job and entered into a settlement agreement with his employer and its carrier. He was a Medicare beneficiary at the time so the parties set aside a portion of his settlement for future injury-related medical expenses so Medicare would not be burdened with the costs. He filed suit against his employer, the carrier, and the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging they had violated the secondary payor act because they failed to get approval from HHS that the set-aside was sufficient.
HHS did not preapprove the set-aside amount and attempted for two years to obtain permission to review the employee's medical records and evaluate the set-aside amount to protect Medicare's interests. The employee maintained that his employer and its carrier should have obtained direct permission for the settlement amount instead of leaving it to him. He also asserted that the employer and carrier failed to include the term "trustee" on his set-aside check which prevented him from opening a Medicare trust account.
During the lawsuit, he produced his medical records to HHS, and HHS approved the set-aside amount. He was also issued a new check. The 7th Circuit found that since the employee had obtained all of the relief he requested during the lawsuit, there was no purpose for his appeal. It dismissed his appeal as moot since he could not gain anything more from the court.
June 15, 2009
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