New ERISA Supreme Court Rulings in Conkright and Hardt

Leveraging Court Guidance on Deferential Review Standards and Attorney Fee Awards

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide ERISA counsel with an analysis of the Court's rulings in Conkright, which provides additional guidance since Met-Life, and Hardt, which upholds attorney fees to a claimant awarded benefits on remand. The panel will review the impact of these cases on ERISA litigation.


The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued two rulings that have significant impact on ERISA plan litigation. In Conkright v. Frommert the Court applied its prior holdings in Firestone Tire & Rubber and MetLife v. Glenn in a different context, providing very helpful guidance.

In Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins., the administrator awarded benefits on remand after a finding that the administrator's initial decision was erroneous. The Court held that receipt of benefits on remand was sufficient success on the merits that allowed claimant to recover attorney fees.

Given the Conkright ruling in favor of deference to the plan administrator, if a court rejects an administrator’s determination, it is more likely to remand to the administrator for further review. If the administrator then awards benefits, claimants may be entitled to attorney fees.

Listen as our authoritative panel of ERISA attorneys provides a thorough briefing on the Supreme Court's rulings in Conkright and Hardt, their impact on ERISA litigation, and how parties to ERISA litigation can leverage these rulings to their advantage.



  1. Standard for deferential review
    1. Analysis of Conkright
    2. Impact on ERISA benefits litigation
  2. Analysis of Hardt
    1. Analysis of Hardt
    2. Impact on ERISA benefits litigation
  3. Nexus between Conkright and Hardt


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • Has the Conkright decision limited arguments by claimants for de novo review of administrator determinations?
  • Will the ERISA principles in Conkright have implications for other ERISA litigation, such as claims of preemption or fiduciary litigation over plan fees and “stock drop” claims?
  • What is the anticipated effect of the Hardt decision on litigation strategy for Plaintiffs and Defendants in the post-administrative and litigation phases?
  • Will Hardt encourage more lawyers to consider litigating benefits claims?


Fleckner, James
James O. Fleckner

Goodwin Procter

Mr. Fleckner is a nationally recognized leader in the field of ERISA litigation and heads the firm’s ERISA...  |  Read More

J. Timothy McDonald
J. Timothy McDonald

Rogers & Hardin

His practice primarily focuses on litigation and counseling regarding employment law and employee benefit issues. He...  |  Read More

John R. Ates
John R. Ates
Ates Law Firm

He was counsel for Petitioner Bridget Hardt in Hardt v. Reliance Standard Insurance Company and argued the case before...  |  Read More

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