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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Predictions


As the term draws to a close, I present this weeks post-dictions. I think this is my worst week ever, having predicted absolutely none of the cases before they were argued. Even so, here are my predictions:*

    *Of course, I always end up posting in chunks, so you have probably already read the predictions by the time you scroll down to this. Nevertheless, I continue with the illusion.


No. 02-469 Black & Decker Disability Plan v. Nord


This case concerns my favorite subject, ERISA. I just sit around some days, thinking about how much I love those five letters. Seriously though, it is unfortunate that I am actually coming to have a vague idea of what ERISA is, at least for the few minutes it takes me to predict the cases that have to do with it. Note to any Supreme Court Justices reading (except Justice O’Connor, who apparently does not read blawgs* (scroll down to April 24 entry)): I would love to learn everything about ERISA should you hire me and assign me to a case involving it. When I say I would love to, I really mean it, unlike earlier when I said I already love ERISA, which was in fact a bald-faced lie.

    * Who am I kidding? If any of the Justices read blawgs, I doubt they read this one.


Okay, so back to Black & Decker. The respondent in this case (Nord) had some sort of back problem, and his doctor ordered him to stop work. Naturally, he applied for disability that his work provided, and a plant supervisor denied it. Nord went to court and lost a summary judgment motion by Black & Decker, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, and went so far as to say that there’s no way that Nord wasn’t disabled. The parties’ briefs disagree significantly about what the question should be in this case. The petitioner says that the Ninth Circuit has made it impossible to disagree with an untrained country bumpkin doctor who just wants to collude with his patient to get the patient benefits. The respondent says that the Ninth Circuit just followed ERISA, requiring the administrator to give any lame old reason for denying benefits, up to and including that he has a hangnail that day, but that the plan administrator in this case failed even in that tiny little insignificant requirement. Because I want to lose to Sam Heldman (who reports that he is tired of this prediction game) as badly as possible, I will predict AFFIRM.


No. 02-299 Entergy Louisiana, Inc. v. Louisiana Public Service Commission


The second case argued on Monday has something to do with energy and FERC, but one admin law case is enough for now. I’m basing this one on the United States’s position in its amicus brief, and saying REVERSE. One thing I do like about this case is the name of the petitioner. “Entergy” sounds pretty cool in that “strategery” sort of way. Think of all the possibilities when you add a syllable: Syntergy, Apologery, Clergery, Emergencery…