Social Security Benefits Denial Affirmed, and Criminal and ERISA Issues

By FindLaw Staff on August 11, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Gragg v. Astrue, No. 09-3238, involved plaintiff's appeal from the judgment of the district court upholding the Social Security Commissioner's denial of his application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income.  The court affirmed on the grounds that 1) plaintiff's experts' reports did not support plaintiff's argument that they concluded borderline intellectual functioning was a severe impairment separate and apart from a learning disorder; and 2) the hypothetical the ALJ gave to a vocational expert properly incorporated the limitations imposed by plaintiff's physical disabilities in combination with his cognitive impairments, and was not defective.

Jones v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., No. 09-1719, concerned an action claiming that defendant insurer began offsetting the disability benefits plaintiff received under an ERISA plan by the amount of disability benefits he collected from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The court affirmed summary judgment for defendant on the ground that the district court's decision involved an application of policy language to undisputed facts, and the administrative record was sufficient to permit a fair evaluation of defendant's decision, and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's request for discovery.

In US v. Harris, No. 09-3060, the court affirmed defendant's convictions for possession with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana and being a felon in possession of a firearm, holding that 1) the district court believed an officer's testimony that a license plate was not plainly visible, and this determination, based on credibility, was not clearly erroneous; and 2) the officer's conclusion that a local ordinance prohibited the license cover was objectively reasonable, as it complied with Missouri decisions interpreting a similarly-worded state statute.

In Vargo v. Weyerhaeuser Corp., No. 09-3125, a wrongful death action based on an industrial accident, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants on the grounds that 1) defendant did not have a duty to prevent or correct any open or obvious loading defect; 2) no reasonable jury could conclude the loading defect was latent and not discoverable by the decedent upon inspection; and 3) there was no evidence that the decedent himself did not contribute to his injuries through the driving of his truck.

Related Resources

Copied to clipboard