In the past week, The Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Life) was recently sued for denying disability insurance benefits to claimants in the states of Florida, South Carolina and Michigan. The disability lawsuits were undertaken as a result of failure to comply with the provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Let us examine the three separate Liberty Mutual cases in more detail.
Penny Menz Vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company Of Boston – Legal Action To Clarify Rights And Recover Disability Benefits Under Employee Welfare Benefit Plan
Filed at the District Court for the Middle District of Florida by a Florida disability attorney, the plaintiff Penny Menz was a covered participant of an employee welfare benefit plan sponsored by her employer, funded and administered by Liberty Life. Because Liberty Life was both underwritten and administered by Liberty Life, the plaintiff alleged that Liberty Life faces an inherent conflict of interest between its duties to the plaintiff as an ERISA fiduciary and its duties to its shareholders as a for-profit corporation.
According to the lawsuit filed by the plaintiff’s Florida disability attorney, Liberty Life failed to:
- Comply with its’ own internal rules, guidelines, protocols, and other similar criteria relied upon in making the adverse determination.
- Provide a copy its own internal rules, guidelines, protocols, and other similar criteria relied upon in making the adverse determination.
- State that same a copy its own internal rules, guidelines, protocols, and other similar criteria relied upon in making the adverse determination will be provided upon request in its denial of the plaintiff’s appeal as required by the provisions of ERISA.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is seeking the disability benefits due to her under the plan in addition to prejudgment interest, costs, attorney’s fees and such other relief as the Court may deem appropriate.
Dennis Johnson vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company Of Boston – Legal Action To Remedy Breach Of Fiduciary Duty And To Recover Full Disability Benefits
The case of Dennis Johnson vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company Of Boston was filed at the District Court for the Western District Of Michigan by the plaintiff’s Michigan disability attorney regarding the breach of the terms of an employee benefit plan and breach of Fiduciary Duty. The plaintiff was a former employee of HI-Lex America, Inc and was a participant in a welfare benefit plan issued by Liberty Life
On July 12th 2008, the plaintiff became entitled to payment of partial disability monthly benefits under the Plan. However, the said disability benefits to the plaintiff were terminated by Liberty Life on June 17th 2010 because the plaintiff allegedly no longer met the definition of disability under the abovementioned plan.
Although the plaintiff made an appeal to Liberty Life’s decision on March 30th 2011, the appeal was denied by Liberty Life on May 18th 2011. The plaintiff contended that the
discontinuation of the plaintiff`s disability benefits payments were in direct violation of the terms of the abovementioned plan. Hence, the plaintiff is seeking from the Court the following relief:
- A declaratory judgment declaring that the plaintiff is entitled to the continuation of the group disability benefits.
- A preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Liberty Life from discontinuing, reducing, limiting, or terminating the disability benefits payable to the plaintiff under the Plan.
- A full and accurate accounting by Liberty Life of all computations for Plaintiffs disability benefits, in sufficient detail so that Plaintiff may ascertain that his benefits are paid in the proper amount.
- An order compelling Liberty Life to pay the plaintiff the full amount of disability benefits due him and to continue such payments for the period set forth in the Plan, including interest on all unpaid benefits.
- Disgorgement of any profits or gain that Liberty Life have obtained as a result of the wrongful action alleged in this complaint add equitable distribution of any profits or gain to the plaintiff.
- Reasonable attorney fees and costs, pursuant to ERISA.
- Any such other relief as may be just and appropriate.
David Hill vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company Of Boston – Legal Action For Judicial Review Of Claim For Disability Benefits
In the case of David Hill vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the plaintiff was working for Mead Westvaco. He was provided with long term disability coverage under a plan that was fully insured by Liberty Life. In addition, Liberty Life was also the Claims Administrator of the Plan.
The plaintiff stated in the lawsuit that after being disabled, he filed a claim for disability benefits under the abovementioned plan. Liberty Life, however, denied his claim for the disability benefits.
The plaintiff alleged that liberty Life was operating under an inherent conflict of interest when it made its decision to deny his claim for disability benefits. The plaintiff also alleged that Liberty Life ignored relevant evidence pertaining to his claim.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff is seeking judicial review of his claim and specifically seeks from the court the following relief:
- A declaration that the plaintiff is entitled to the disability benefits which he seeks under the terms of the plans.
- Or alternatively remand the plaintiff’s claim for a "full and fair review."
- An award of attorney’s fees and costs.
- An award for prejudgement interest.
- An award for other further relief deem just and proper by the Court.
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.