Robert Stanford was a nurse anesthetist in a hospital in South Carolina. In his position, he was exposed to and responsible for administering anesthesia and narcotics to surgical and obstetric patients. Shortly after starting work, he began taking Fentanyl, a powerful narcotic. By September of 2003 he had become addicted to the drug, and entered rehabilitation the following month.

After release from rehabilitation, but before returning to work, Stanford relapsed, and returned to rehabilitation, where he stayed for 3 months this time. While in rehabilitation, he applied for long-term disability benefits with Continental Casualty, which provided benefits through his employer. While in rehab, his benefits were approved.

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