November 28, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 C 9135 -
Marvin E. Aspen, Judge.
BAUER, ROVNER, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.
John Dragus, brought suit against defendant-appellee,
Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company
("Reliance"), under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act for denial of long-term disability
("LTD") benefits. After the district court denied
Dragus' request for discovery outside the claim file
record, both parties moved for summary judgment. Before the
court ruled, Dragus filed a motion to supplement the claim
record with a fully favorable Social Security Disability
Insurance ("SSDI") decision. The district court
denied the motion to supplement and granted summary judgment
in favor of Reliance. Dragus now appeals.
worked as an Internet Sales Manager for SMG/McCormick Place
("SMG"), a private venue-management firm that
manages events at Chicago's McCormick Place and Navy
Pier. As an Internet Sales Manager, Dragus managed and
coordinated all information technology and telecommunication
needs for individual vendors at conventions and meetings.
experienced severe neck pain for several years leading up to
his claim for LTD benefits. In 2011, he underwent a
three-level cervical spine fusion, but the surgery failed to
resolve his pain and Dragus struggled to meet the demands of
his job. Over the next two years, Dragus underwent numerous
treatments to deal with the pain through physical therapy,
steroid injections, and a rhizotomoy-a surgical procedure
that severs nerve roots in the spinal cord through the use of
an electrified probe. Physicians also prescribed Norco, a
pain medication, which caused memory impairment and hand
2013, when all of these treatments failed, Dragus went on
short-term disability to participate in a two-month,
full-time pain management program. After completing the
program, Dragus returned to work full-time. Within two months
of his return, the pain issues returned, resulting in
excessive absences from work. On February 7, 2014, SMG
reprimanded him and informed him that any future absences
would require a physician's excuse.
April 4, 2014, Reliance received Dragus' LTD benefits
claim. The Group Policy describes the coverage provided as
CLAUSE: We will pay a Monthly Benefit if an Insured:
1) Is Totally Disabled as the result of a Sickness of Injury
covered by this Policy;
2) Is under the regular care of a Physician;
3) Has completed the Elimination Period; and
4) Submits satisfactory proof of Total ...