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Rios v. Deere & Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

July 6, 2018

MARIA RIOS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEERE & COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ....................................... 1

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND .................... 1

         III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION .......................... 2

         IV.RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND ........................ 2

A. The Plan ......................................... 2
B. Rios's Injury and Treatment ............................ 3
C. Rios's Application for LTD Benefits ....................... 7
D. Deere Denies LTD Benefits ............................ 8
E. Rios Appeals Deere's Denial ............................ 8

         V. STANDARD OF REVIEW ................................ 10

         VI. ANALYSIS .......................................... 11

A. Relevant Evidence ...................................11
B. Substantial Evidence ..................................12
C. Conflict of Interest ...................................16
D. SSA's Determination of Disability .........................16

         VII. CONCLUSION ........................................ 17

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the court is Plaintiff Maria Rios's Complaint (docket no. 2).

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 11, 2015, Rios filed the Complaint, alleging that Defendant Deere & Company (“Deere”) wrongfully denied her claim for long-term disability (“LTD”) benefits under the John Deere Long Term Disability Plan (“Plan”), thereby violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. See Complaint ¶¶ 1, 4, 7-12. On October 20, 2015, Deere filed an Answer (docket no. 15) generally denying liability and asserting affirmative defenses. On December 31, 2015, Rios filed her brief (“Rios Brief”) (docket no. 19). On February 29, 2016, Deere submitted its brief (“Deere Brief”) (docket no. 25). On March 1, 2016, Rios filed a Reply (docket no. 26).

         Neither party requests oral argument, and the court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. The case is fully submitted and ready for decision.

         III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

         The court has federal question jurisdiction over this action, which arises under ERISA. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising ...


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