Disability Insurance Cases Nationwide

In Kevin C. McCusker v. Unum Life Insurance Co. of America, Et al., Plaintiff found his wife dead in their house on February 10, 2016. The wife had been employed by Fidelity Bank where she was a participant in a group life and accidental death plan through Fidelity’s employee welfare benefit plan. Plaintiff was named as the beneficiary. Under the plan, “Unum is vested with discretionary authority to make benefit determinations…”

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MetLife long term disability policies are notorious for containing very restrictive 24 month limitations for medical conditions that they classify as a neuromusculoskeletal and/or soft tissue disorders. The limitation typically limits benefits to two years for disabilities caused by neuromusculoskeletal and soft tissue disorders, “including, but not limited to, any disease or disorder of the spine or extremities and their surrounding soft tissue.”

However, the limitation is inapplicable if the claimant has objective evidence that establishes the presence of at least one of six exceptions, including radiculopathy which MetLife policies typically define as “Disease of the peripheral nerve roots supported by objective clinical findings of nerve pathology.”

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In David L. Rothman v. Unum Group, Unum Life Insurance Company of America (Unum), Plaintiff was a Certified Financial Planner who had worked for almost 30 years in a business owned by his father, Rothman Securities, when he developed a drug addiction. He was unable to perform the duties of his regular occupation and received disability benefits from October 12, 2012, until October 2015. On October 1, 2015, Unum terminated Plaintiff’s benefits. Plaintiff’s appeals were denied and he then filed this lawsuit against Unum for breach of contract and bad faith.

Background

In addition to his drug abuse problems, in March 2013, Plaintiff pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering and was fired by Rothman Securities. In January 2014, he was sentenced to a 4-year prison sentence and in February that same year, his professional license was revoked due to his criminal conviction.

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In Lavery v. Restoration Hardware, Inc.,  (D. Mass.), No. 17-10856, March 28, 2018, Plaintiff John Lavery (“Lavery”) filed a claim against Defendant Restoration Hardware, Inc. (“RHI”), based on RHI’s alleged misclassification of Lavery as an independent contractor when Lavery was allegedly in fact in employee under Massachusetts law. Lavery seeks among other damages the value of benefits plan (i.e., a welfare benefits package) that he would have received had he been classified as an employee. RHI moved to dismiss Lavery’s claim for damages with respect to the welfare benefits because RHI contended that claim was preempted by federal law.

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In Mary Beth Tobin v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, Plaintiff worked in Florida as manager of costuming operations for Disney Worldwide Services. She had been under the care of a physician for fibromyalgia beginning in February 2012. Her last day of work was October 2, 2012. She subsequently moved to Michigan and continued medical treatment with a board-certified family medicine physician.

Plaintiff filed a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits, providing Hartford with her medical records, which included the physician’s statement of functionality. Hartford denied her claim and her subsequent administrative appeals, so she filed this ERISA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

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It seems that claimants are denied long term disability benefits by CIGNA every day. CIGNA’s denials are predictable and tend to follow the same denial techniques from one claim to the next. After a LTD denial claimants are forced to go through the appeals process to get back on claim and with CIGNA it seems almost impossible to convince the appeals department to overturn an initial denial of benefits.

Such was the case with Ms. Sangha as she was left with no other option but to file a lawsuit against CIGNA in a California federal district court.

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Disability Insurance News:
Appeals Court upholds Virginia court’s ruling that Hartford correctly terminated long term disability benefits to medical transcriptionist who had painful arm.
Appeals Court Upholds Hartford’s Termination of Disability Benefits


Resolved Cases:
Cigna Overturns Denial of LTD Benefits to Maintenance Supervisor previously employed with Checkpoint Systems, Inc., who had a history of 7

In the case of Michael J. Pacquin v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, Plaintiff Pacquin, a Business Development Director for Transistor Devices, Inc. (TDI), was infected with the West Nile Virus in 2003. As a result, he contracted encephalitis and sustained brain damage. This left him with cognitive difficulties that made it impossible for him to continue his employment.

He was covered under a disability insurance policy which provided him benefits for the first 24 months when he was disabled from working in his regular occupation. After that, in order to qualify for benefits, he had to show that he was disabled from working in any occupation for which he was reasonably qualified.

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Attorneys Gregory Dell and Cesar Gavidia discuss problems encountered in litigation on behalf of a client who had a stroke. He returned to work, but three years later filed a claim for long-term disability benefits with Aetna Disability Insurance. Aetna agreed with his treating neuropsychologist that he could not work in his own occupation due to his symptoms indicating cognitive, visual, auditory, spatial, and perception issues and awarded him benefits.

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