Wanda N. and her North Carolina disability attorney filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Western Division, claiming that Liberty Life wrongfully terminated Wanda N.’s long term disability benefits in violation of the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and other federal statutes.
In the suit, Wanda N.’s disability attorney petitions the District Court to rule in favor of Wanda N. by:
- Passing judgment against Liberty Life and obligating the insurer to pay Wanda N. her entitled disability income benefits from December 30, 2010 through the date of the judgment, plus pre-judgment interest;
- Passing judgment against Liberty Life and obligating the insurer to fulfill its future obligations to pay Wanda N. her monthly disability income benefits as long as she is eligible to receive them under the terms of her policy;
- Awarding Wanda N. attorney’s fees and court costs at the discretion of the court; and
- Providing Wanda N. with any other "relief as the Court deems just and proper."
Claimant’s Disability Benefits are Terminated by Liberty Life in Violation of ERISA
As an employee at Kidde Aerospace & Defense, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, Wanda N. was enrolled in her employer’s insurance policy benefit plan when she became disabled due to back pain in February of 2010. After receiving her short term disability benefits for six months and being approved for her long-term disability benefits in August 2010, Wanda N. discovered that her disability benefits would be terminated in December 2010. Apparently, the insurer concluded that Wanda N. was no longer disabled and believed that the previous evidence it had of Wanda N.’s disabled condition "no longer supported [Wanda N.’s] claim." On appeal of this decision, Wanda N. was denied.
Disability Attorney Presents Claimant’s Case in Their Complaint
A Floater at Kidde Aerospace, Wanda N. "performed various jobs when co-workers were absent from work or when additional workers were required for a particular job." Prior to her work stoppage, Wanda N. had a two-year history of "lower back pain radiating into her buttocks and legs, with numbness and tingling in her buttocks and thighs." Wanda N. underwent surgery in an effort to relief her back problem in March 2010, with some improvement of her condition, but no complete resolution. On various medication and attending to her healing process through physical therapy, Wanda N. received short-term disability benefits from Liberty life through August of 2010. Still recuperating, Wanda N. then applied for long term disability benefits, provided the insurer with her a completed Physical Job Evaluation Form, and Liberty Life approved her long term disability claim with plans to re-evaluate her situation in November 2010.
In November, a Liberty Life physician, in dispute with Wanda N.’s treating physician, determined that Wanda N. could perform light-duty work. Unfortunately, the Liberty life physician ignored Wanda N.’s medical records, which explicitly described how much pain Wanda N. was in and that her activity level potential was far short of the requirements of her position at Kidde Aerospace. In response Wanda N. "submitted a one-page appeal to Liberty Life in January 2011" and "advised Liberty Life that she could not sit up straight in a chair, could not sit for more than 15 minutes at a time without pain, could not stand for more than 10 minutes without pain, could not bend over, she laid down in the afternoons with a heating pad to help with the pain, she was currently on Zanaflex, Vicodin, Neurontin and Mobic, she was not allowed to drive a car due to the medication she was taking, and she remained under the care of" two doctors.
After another Liberty Life physician concluded that Wanda N. could work, Liberty Life again denied Wanda N.’s appeals resulting in Wanda N. hiring a disability lawyer to fight for her disability benefits in District 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.