Recently, three different lawsuits were filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) against the Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Mutual) at the United States District Courts. Two cases were filed by the plaintiffs through a South Carolina disability attorney at the District Court for the District of South Carolina. The third case was filed by a Florida disability lawyer at the District Court for the Middle district of Florida.
The Florida Lawsuit
In Evalina Hutton v Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the lawsuit was a legal action to recover benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan which consists of a short term disability insurance policy underwritten and administered by Liberty Life for the benefit of Tech Data Corporation’s employees. The plaintiff in this case was a 60 year old woman working as a Procurement Manager with Tech Data Corporation.
It was stated in the lawsuit that the plaintiff’s last day of employment was September 2nd 2010 with a disability date of September 7th 2010. The reason for the disability was due to the plaintiff suffering from arthritis, degenerative disc disease and chronic back pain that came about from a laminectomy surgery in 2009. The plaintiff submitted a claim for short term disability benefits to Liberty Life and was denied the claim on December 7th 2010. According to Liberty Life, the reason for denial of short term disability benefits was because there was insufficient medical evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim of impairment. The plaintiff, according to Liberty Life, also did not meet the definition of disability under the plan.
The South Carolina’s Lawsuits
Both of the lawsuits filed in the District Court for the district of South Carolina were actions to recover long term disability benefits under ERISA’s plans. In James Powell v Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the plaintiff was an employee of Nucor Steel. He was provided with long term disability coverage through a plan that was fully insured by Liberty Life. Liberty Life was also the Claims Administrator for this plan.
According to the stated facts in the lawsuit, the plaintiff was forced to stop work as a result of becoming disabled. He filed a claim for long term disability benefits and was denied by Liberty Life. Despite appealing against Liberty Life’s decision to deny the plaintiff’s claim for long term disability benefits and having exhausted all administrative remedies, Liberty Life had failed and refused to provide additional benefits to the plaintiff.
In the second lawsuit filed, Clarence Myer v Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the plaintiff was an employee of MeadWestvaco and was provided with a long term disability plan that was also fully insured by Liberty Life. In addition, Liberty Life was also the Claims Administrator of the said plan. When the plaintiff was also forced to stop work due to disability, he filed a claim for long term disability benefits and was denied by Liberty Life. The plaintiff also appealed Liberty Life’s decision to deny long term disability benefits and exhausted all administrative remedies provided under the plan. Nevertheless, Liberty Life continued to deny additional disability benefits to the plaintiff.
Remedies sought in the Lawsuits
In the Florida’s Case, the plaintiff seeks:
- An order by the Court for Liberty Life to pay the disability benefits plus interest that is equal to the contractual amount which the plaintiff is entitled to;
- An Award of Attorney fees and Costs;
- Any other relief which the plaintiff is entitled to
The legal remedies sought by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed at the District Court for the District of South Carolina are the same. In both instances, the plaintiffs are asking the Court:
- To review all evidence before it and declare that Plaintiffs are entitled to the benefits which they seeks under the terms of the plan.;
- For the court to exercise its inherent power to remand the plaintiffs” claims for a “full and fair review” in the event that the Court determined that Liberty Life had abused its discretion and where the evidences before the court might not support the plaintiffs’ entitlement.;
- An award of attorney fees and cost;
- Other and further relief which the Court deems just and proper, including pre-judgment interest on all benefits due