In two recent separate cases, an employee of Wells Fargo & Company (Wells Fargo) and an employee of Filtrona Greensboro, Inc. filed lawsuits in California and North Carolina respectively, through their disability attorneys, against the Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Life) for violations of the provisions of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
California disability Lawyer Sues Liberty Mutual
In the case of Melinda Martinez v Wells Fargo Long Term Disability Plan & Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the plaintiff’s California disability attorney filed the lawsuit at the District Court for the Southern District of California. The lawsuit alleged that Liberty Life contravened the provisions of ERISA and the plaintiff is seeking relief from the Court for the violations of her legal rights under an employee benefit plan issued by Liberty Life.
The Nature of the Complaint
The plaintiff Melinda Martinez was an employee of Wells Fargo and participated in a Long Term Disability (LTD) plan issued by Liberty Life. While employed with Wells Fargo, the plaintiff became disabled as defined by the LTD plan and hence was entitled to the benefits under the LTD plan. The plaintiff attempted to make a claim for LTD benefits under the LTD plan but was denied by Liberty Life on the grounds that the plaintiff was not disabled. Pursuant to the denial of the claim, the plaintiff made an appeal to Liberty Life’s decision to deny her LTD benefits. However, despite overwhelming evidence indicating that the plaintiff was disabled, Liberty Life upheld its decision to deny LTD benefits to the plaintiff. At the same time, Liberty Life also informed the plaintiff that her rights to appeal under the LTD plan had been exhausted.
The plaintiff alleged that the Wells Fargo Long Term Disability Plan and Liberty Life had wrongfully denied her claim for LTD benefits by:
- Failing to pay LTD benefit payments to the Plaintiff while knowing that her disability was not a pre-existing condition and she was entitled to those benefits under the LTD plan.
- Withholding the LTD benefits from the plaintiff while aware that the plaintiff’s claim was valid.
- Failing to provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of LTD benefits
- Failing to properly advise and explain to the plaintiff any additional material or information necessary for the Plaintiff to perfect her claim.
- Failing to properly investigate the plaintiff’s claim.
Request for Relief
Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the plaintiff is seeking the following relief from the Court:
- All disability benefits due to the plaintiff including any and all prejudgment and postjudgment interest;
- Interest on past due benefits at the rate of 10% per annum as stipulated by the California Insurance Code;
- A declaration that the plaintiff is disabled under the terms of the LTD plan and entitled to receive benefits for the same while the plaintiff is, was and continues to remain disabled;
- Or, in the alternative, an order overturning the denial and remanding the case to Liberty Life and the LTD plan for further adjudication under the correct legal standard;
- An award of Attorney Fees and Costs;
- And other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.
North Carolina Disability Lawyer Sues Liberty Mutual
In the case of Barbara Newkirk-Davis v Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston and FIL Holdings Corporation Group Disability Income Policy, the lawsuit was filed at the Superior Court for County of Guilford, North Carolina by a North Carolina disability attorney for the plaintiff Barbara Newkirk-Davis.
The Alleged Facts of the Case
The plaintiff Barbara Newkirk-Davis was employed as a Quality Assurance Auditor for Filtrona Greensboro, Inc. While employed with Filtrona Greensboro, Inc., the plaintiff participated in an employee welfare benefit policy known as "FIL HOLDINGS CORPORATION GROUP DISABILIY INCOME POLICY" (hereinafter "FIL Policy") that was sponsored by Filtrona Greensboro, Inc and issued by Liberty Life.
FIL Policy acted as the plan administrator while Liberty Life provided claims administration and services for the FIL POLICY and its beneficiaries. On November 11th 2009, due to severe depression, the plaintiff stopped working. She filed a claim for LTD benefits and was approved for payment of LTD benefits in the amount of $2318.00 per month until August 9, 2010.
On August 9th 2010, the plaintiff alleged that FIL Policy and Liberty Life, without any basis, and disregarding the conclusions of the plaintiff’s doctors, terminated the plaintiff’s LTD benefits effective from August 10th 2010. The plaintiff timely appealed the decision to terminate her LTD benefits but however was unsuccessful in her appeal on October 27th 2010.
The plaintiff argued that FIL Policy and Liberty Life had acted arbitrarily and capriciously and purposely ignored the qualified opinions, findings and conclusions of Plaintiff’s doctors in their handling of Plaintiff’s claim for LTD benefits. She further claimed in the lawsuit that that they had abused their discretion and acted with self interest whilst administrating her claim for LTD benefits. The plaintiff alleged that she remains disabled and based on her doctors’ findings "is unable to perform the duties of any gainful occupation for which she is reasonably qualified by education, training or experience."
Relief sought by the Plaintiff
Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the plaintiff is bringing a "…civil action to recover benefits due to her under the terms of the Policy, to enforce her rights under the terms of the Policy and/or to clarify her right to benefits under the terms of the Policy" under ERISA. As such, the plaintiff is asking the Court for the following relief:
- A declaration that FIL Policy and Liberty Life have violated the terms of the Policy denying and refusing to pay Plaintiffs long term disability benefits under the Policy;
- An order to compel FIL Policy and Liberty Life to pay Plaintiffs long term disability benefits pursuant to the terms of the Policy;
- A declaration of the plaintiff’s rights to receive future LTD benefits;
- An award of prejudgment interest on all damages requested;
- An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs;
- Any other and further relief as the Court deems necessary and proper.
About the author: Gregory Michael Dell is an attorney and managing partner of the disability income division of Attorneys Dell & Schaefer. Mr. Dell and his team of lawyers have assisted thousands of long-term disability claimants with their claims against every major disability insurance company. To request a free legal consultation call 800-411-9085.