ERISA – LTD Standard of Review: 6th Circuit

“The arbitrary or capricious standard is the least demanding form of judicial review of administrative action.” Davis By and Through Farmers Bank and Capital Trust Co. of Frankfort, Ky. v. Ky. Fin. Cos. Retirement Plan, 887 F.2d 689, 693 (6th Cir. 1989) (quotingPokratz v. Jones Dairy Farm, 771 F.2d 206, 209 (7th Cir. 1985)). Under this standard, the determination of an administrator will be upheld if it is “rational in light of the plan’s provisions.” McClain v. Eaton Corp. Disability Plan, 740 F.3d 1059, 1064 (6th Cir. 2014)(citing Marks v. Newcourt Credit Group, Inc., 342 F.3d 444, 457 (6th Cir. 2003); Borda v. Hardy, Lewis, Pollard & Page, P.C., 138 F.3d 1062, 1066 (6th Cir. 1998)); Shelby Cnty. Health Care Corp. v. S. Council of Indus. Workers Health and Welfare Trust Fund, 203 F.3d 926, 933-34 (6th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Stated differently, a claim administrator’s decision is not arbitrary and capricious if it “is based on a reasonable interpretation of the plan.” Johnson v. Eaton Corp., 970 F.2d 1569, 1574 (6th Cir. 1992).

While this review is “not without some teeth, it is not all teeth.”McClain, 740 F.3d at 1064. “A decision reviewed according to the arbitrary and capricious standard must be upheld if it results from a deliberate principled reasoning process and is supported by substantial [37]  evidence.” Id. (citing Schwalm v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 626 F.3d 299, 308 (6th Cir. 2010). “When it is possible to offer a reasoned explanation, based on the evidence, for a particular outcome, that outcome is not arbitrary or capricious.” McClain, 740 F.3d at 1065 (citing Shields v. Reader’s Digest Ass’n, Inc., 331 F.3d 536, 541 (6th Cir. 2003)). Moreover, a court must accept an administrator’s rational decision, if it is not arbitrary or capricious, even in the face of an equally rational interpretation of a plan offered by a participant. Gismondi v. United Techs. Corp., 408 F.3d 295, 298 (6th Cir. 2005) (citingMorgan v. SKF USA, Inc., 385 F.3d 989, 992 (6th Cir. 2004)).

Ling v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119865, *35-37 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 9, 2015)