Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston was recently sued by three separate Plaintiffs for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations in Michigan Federal Courts. In all three cases filed by Michigan disability attorneys, Liberty is alleged of wrongfully denying the claims of all Plaintiffs for long-term disability (LTD) benefits.
The First Case
Amy W. was employed by Chico’s FAS, Inc. as a Purchasing Assistant, thereby making her eligible for its long-term disability plan, which was covered by Liberty.
Plaintiff ceased working on April 15, 2008 due to her degenerative and traumatic injuries. To the current date, Plaintiff suffers from narcolepsy, fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety. Plaintiff filed for short-term disability benefits, which were granted by Liberty.
Plaintiff filed for long-term disability benefits through the Plan. On October 16, 2008, Liberty denied Plaintiff’s request for LTD benefits under the Plan and informed Plaintiff she had 180 days to appeal this decision.
On April 13, 2009, Plaintiff requested administrative review of the denial of benefits as she was entitled to under the Plan. Plaintiff submitted administrative appeal to Liberty and included additional documentation and medical records detailing her total disability that prevented her from working at her own occupation or at any other occupation according to the terms of the Plan. Plaintiff also included documentation of the fully favorable decision of total disability as deemed by the Social Security Administration.
On July 8, 2009, Liberty again denied Plaintiff’s claim for long-term disability benefits. Plaintiff filed a second appeal on February 5, 2010 and added additional documentation and medical records to further prove her claim for LTD benefits under the Plan. Liberty issued its final denial on March 31, 2010.
Due to exhausting her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, claiming that Liberty did not properly evaluate the evidence presented to it regarding Plaintiff’s condition, is interpreting the terms of the plan for total disability in an unreasonable manner, and has not fulfilled its contractual obligation to furnish the promised benefits under the Plan.
The Second Case
Amy S. was a Customer Service Representative for Advance America Cash Advance Center, making her eligible for the long-term disability Plan that was insured by Liberty.
Due to degenerative and traumatic injuries that caused seizure-like episodes, Plaintiff ceased work on September 3, 2008. Plaintiff filed for short-term disability benefits, which were granted by Liberty. Plaintiff applied for long-term disability benefits through the Plan, but was denied by Liberty on December 4, 2008. Plaintiff was informed that she had 180 days to appeal this decision.
Plaintiff requested administrative review of the denial of benefits on July 11, 2009. She sent a letter to Liberty that included additional information and medical records to substantiate her claim that she is totally disabled under the terms of the Plan, preventing her from working at her own occupation or from any other occupation. Liberty denied Plaintiff’s appeal on March 3, 2010.
Plaintiff filed a second appeal on August 30, 2010, which included additional information and medical records to substantiate her claim that she is totally disabled. Liberty issued its final denial on October 8, 2010.
Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, which has led to the filing of this lawsuit. Plaintiff claims that Liberty failed to properly evaluate the evidence presented to it regarding Plaintiff’s condition, did not interpret the terms of the plan for total disability in a reasonable manner, and did not fulfill its contractual obligation to furnish the promised benefits under the Plan.
The Third Case
Allyse F. has been an employee of PNC Financial Services Group since 2004. This made her eligible for the disability benefits package that was insured by Liberty.
Due to a serious motor vehicle accident on July 12, 2008, Plaintiff has not worked since December 2008. Plaintiff is totally disabled and unable to work due to ongoing problems with depression and physical and emotional symptoms caused by the accident, as supported by her psychologisti. This prognosis was also supported by Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon at the University of Michigan, as well as by the Plaintiff’s primary care physician, who also believes that the Plaintiff will be on disability for at least the next three years.
Liberty stopped Plaintiff’s benefits in August 2010, recklessly disregarding the opinions of the Plaintiff’s treating physicians. Due to the exhaustion of administrative remedies, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit, claiming that Liberty is in violation of the LTD benefits contract.
Relief Sought in the Lawsuits
In the three aforementioned cases, the Plaintiffs seek the following relief from Liberty in their lawsuits:
- A judgment that the Plaintiffs are to be immediately reinstated to their respective LTD Plans, with all short-term and long-term benefits that should have been paid, along with accrued interest.
- A judgment that the Plaintiffs are entitled to all future long-term benefits as listed in the respective LTD plans as long as they are considered totally disabled under the terms of their respective Plans.
- Complete reimbursement of all attorney fees and costs.
- Any other relief that the court considers to be just 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.