Our client was a litigator with his own successful practice. Early in 2009 he began to experience increasing pain in his upper back and neck. Thinking it was just a result of stress, he continued to try to work through the pain. As the pain worsened he sought medical treatment and later learned he had a life-threatening Chordoma in his cervical spine. The slow growing, highly dangerous Chordoma had to be removed, and in doing so would result in the fusion of multiple discs in his cervical spine and radiation treatment. In June of 2009 he underwent his surgery.
The case of Mary Midgett v. Washington Group International Long Term Disability Plan, 561 F.3d 887 (8th Cir. 2009) is a reminder that there are discrepancies in how Federal courts apply the law with regard to the weight of credibility to give to an insured’s treating physicians versus the opinions of doctors hired by the insurance carrier to conduct reviews of medical records only.
Mary Midgett was a contract manager for Washington Group International, and was insured under Washington’s group short term and long term disability policies. The policies were originally administered by Broadspire, and then by Aetna. Ms. Midgett filed for benefits under Washington’s short term disability policy due to a myriad of conditions including degenerative arthritis, fibromyalgia and cervical degenerative disc disease, and osteoporosis.