Reversing the district court’s ruling in favor of the defendant insurer on cross-motions for summary judgment in a long-term disability case, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals made it clear that a District Court is not “reviewing” the conclusions of the plan administrator. “Some of the confusion in this area may be attributable to the common phrase ‘de novo review’ used in connection with ERISA cases. In fact, in these cases the district courts are not reviewing anything; they are making an independent decision about the employee’s entitlement to benefits. In the administrative arena, the court normally will be required to defer to the agency’s findings of fact; when de novo consideration is appropriate in an ERISA case, in contrast, the court can and must come to an independent decision on both the legal and factual issues that form the basis of the claim. What happened before the Plan administrator or ERISA fiduciary is irrelevant.” See Diaz v. Prudential, No.06-3822, 2007 WL 2389773 (7th Cir. Aug. 23, 2007).
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