Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., No. 96-5168

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore SEYMOUR, Chief Judge, EBEL and BRISCOE; BRISCOE
Citation148 F.3d 1196
Parties, 98 CJ C.A.R. 3922 Clarence Roy SMITH; Betty Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. ROGERS GALVANIZING CO., Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date21 July 1998
Docket NumberNo. 96-5168

Page 1196

148 F.3d 1196
67 USLW 1677, 98 CJ C.A.R. 3922
Clarence Roy SMITH; Betty Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
ROGERS GALVANIZING CO., Defendant-Appellant.
No. 96-5168.
United States Court of Appeals,
Tenth Circuit.
July 21, 1998.

Stephen L. Andrew (D. Kevin Ikenberry with him on the brief), Stephen L. Andrew & Associates, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the appellants.

Page 1197

Greggory T. Colpitts (Clifford R. Magee with him on the brief), Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the appellee.

Before SEYMOUR, Chief Judge, EBEL and BRISCOE, Circuit Judges.

BRISCOE, Circuit Judge.

After our opinion in this case was issued, Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., 128 F.3d 1380 (10th Cir.1997), Rogers Galvanizing Company filed a petition for rehearing on three issues. We granted rehearing on two issues and allowed Rogers to supplement the record on appeal with additional materials from the district court file.

District court's decision to reopen evidence on issue of damages

Plaintiffs' claims under the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1161-1168, were tried to the court. At trial, "[p]laintiffs introduced evidence ... concerning the total amount of medical expenses incurred during the continuation coverage period, but did not introduce any evidence concerning the extent to which those bills would have been covered under defendant's self-funded plan." Smith, 128 F.3d at 1385. As reflected in their post-trial brief, plaintiffs' position was that any applicable premiums and deductibles were "recoupments" which would be deducted from the total amount of medical expenses only if affirmatively proved by Rogers. In response, Rogers argued it was plaintiffs' burden to demonstrate the net benefits to which they were entitled under the Guardian plan and plaintiffs' failure to present evidence concerning applicable premiums and deductibles was fatal to their claim for damages.

In its subsequent findings of fact and conclusions of law, the district court concluded Rogers failed to provide plaintiffs with adequate notice of their COBRA rights upon Clarence Smith's termination. Accordingly, the court concluded plaintiffs were "entitled to collect from Rogers Galvanizing the amount of any medical bills incurred during the continuation coverage period ..., less premium and applicable deductible (recoupment)." Appellant's App. at 37. However, because no evidence concerning plan coverage, monthly premiums, or applicable deductibles had been introduced at trial, the court issued the following directive to the parties:

On or before the 27th day of November, 1995, the parties are to submit a Judgment in keeping with the above Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law for the Court's approval. Failing in which the Court will conduct an additional hearing on December 7, 1995, at 1:30 P.M., to determine Plaintiffs' damages, including costs and a reasonable attorneys fee. It is the Defendant's burden to present evidence regarding the June 1, 1993 new plan coverage, premium and deductible. It is the Plaintiffs' burden to establish which of Plaintiffs' medical expenses are covered thereunder and application of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority lien.

Id. at 38. In accordance with the directive, Rogers analyzed plaintiffs' medical bills and determined the benefits due plaintiffs under the policy at issue. Thereafter, the parties stipulated to the net damages recoverable by plaintiffs and, consistent with the stipulation, the district court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against Rogers. 1

Rogers contends the district court erred in reopening the case sua sponte to accept additional evidence on the issue of damages. According to Rogers, plaintiffs bore the burden of proof on the issue of damages and the court's decision "subvert[ed] the adversarial nature of the trial" by relieving plaintiffs from the consequences of their decision not to present any evidence concerning premiums, deductibles, and applicable benefits under the policy. Rogers argues the district court's judgment awarding benefits to plaintiffs should be reversed. 2

A district court has broad discretion to reopen a case to accept additional evidence and that decision will not be overturned

Page 1198

on appeal absent an abuse of...

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17 practice notes
  • Cisneros v. Wilson, No. 98-2215
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 11, 2000
    ...1385-86 (10th Cir. 1997) ("Generally, we will not consider an issue that was not raised and resolved in the trial court."), on rehearing, 148 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir. 1998). Claims of sovereign immunity, however, present an exception to that general rule. See In re Talbot, 124 F.3d 1201, 1205 (......
  • Daneshvar v. Graphic Technology, Inc., No. 97-2304-JWL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 23, 1998
    ...employee's expense. 29 U.S.C. § 1161; Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., 128 F.3d 1380, 1383 (10th Cir.1997), reh'g on other grounds, 148 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir.1998). Qualifying events include termination of employment for any reason other than gross misconduct. 29 U.S.C. § 1163. When a qualify......
  • Trial Lawyers Coll. v. Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers Coll. at Thunderhead Ranch, 20-8038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 27, 2022
    ...to present rebuttal evidence. In reviewing that ruling, we apply the abuse-of-discretion standard. Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co. , 148 F.3d 1196, 1197–98 (10th Cir. 1998). To apply this standard, we consider the timing of the new evidence, its character, and the potential prejudice to the......
  • The Trial Lawyers Coll. v. Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers Coll. at Thunderhead Ranch, 20-8038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 27, 2022
    ...Group to present rebuttal evidence. In reviewing that ruling, we apply the abuse-of-discretion standard. Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., 148 F.3d 1196, 1197-98 (10th Cir. 1998). To apply this standard, we consider the timing of the new evidence, its character, and the potential prejudice t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Cisneros v. Wilson, No. 98-2215
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 11, 2000
    ...1385-86 (10th Cir. 1997) ("Generally, we will not consider an issue that was not raised and resolved in the trial court."), on rehearing, 148 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir. 1998). Claims of sovereign immunity, however, present an exception to that general rule. See In re Talbot, 124 F.3d 1201, 1205 (......
  • Daneshvar v. Graphic Technology, Inc., No. 97-2304-JWL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 23, 1998
    ...employee's expense. 29 U.S.C. § 1161; Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., 128 F.3d 1380, 1383 (10th Cir.1997), reh'g on other grounds, 148 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir.1998). Qualifying events include termination of employment for any reason other than gross misconduct. 29 U.S.C. § 1163. When a qualify......
  • Trial Lawyers Coll. v. Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers Coll. at Thunderhead Ranch, 20-8038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 27, 2022
    ...to present rebuttal evidence. In reviewing that ruling, we apply the abuse-of-discretion standard. Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co. , 148 F.3d 1196, 1197–98 (10th Cir. 1998). To apply this standard, we consider the timing of the new evidence, its character, and the potential prejudice to the......
  • The Trial Lawyers Coll. v. Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers Coll. at Thunderhead Ranch, 20-8038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 27, 2022
    ...Group to present rebuttal evidence. In reviewing that ruling, we apply the abuse-of-discretion standard. Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., 148 F.3d 1196, 1197-98 (10th Cir. 1998). To apply this standard, we consider the timing of the new evidence, its character, and the potential prejudice t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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