Liberty Life Must Defend Its Denial of Benefits After Three Recent Lawsuits Filed

Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston was recently sued three times in the State of South Carolina after it denied long term disability benefits by three individuals. Let’s take a closer look at each case.

Case 1:

Filing a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Rock Hill Division against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston on July 22, 2011, Darlene D. and her South Carolina disability attorney ask the District Court for her short term and long term disability benefits under ERISA (the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act and attorney’s fees under 29 U.S.C.S. ยง 1132(a)(1)(B). Employed at Abitibi Bowater until 2010, Darlene D. was covered under the company’s Liberty Assurance plan at the time of her disability claim.

Faced with certain medical problems that prevented her from working, Darlene D. was forced to stop working at the company and filed a claim for short term disability benefits which claim was denied by Liberty Life resulting in Darlene D. proceeding to appeal the denial until all her administrative remedies ran out. Concluding it was futile to pursue her long term disability claim “in light of her STD claim because a determination of disability during the STD period is a necessary prerequisite to [Darlene D.] drawing LTD benefits,” Darlene D. and her disability lawyer determined that the best course of action was to file this subject lawsuit.

In her complaint, Darlene D.’s disability attorney claims that Liberty Life made its decision to deny Darlene D.’s claim “under a conflict of interest” as the decision “was not based upon substantial evidence or the result of a principled and reasoned decision-making process” since the insurer is both the decision maker and the payor of benefits to Darlene D.. Darlene D. and her disability attorney claim that Liberty Life based its denial on “biased information and flawed expert opinions” and that that bias and flawed opinion proves that the insurer was “operating under a conflict of interest” when it denied Darlene D. her disability benefits.

Darlene D. and her attorney ask the District Court to review case law and any other legal resources to determine if Liberty Life “abused its discretion” in denying Darlene D. her disability benefits, and they hope to resolve the situation quickly and ask that should the Court find in Darlene D.’s favor by awarding her short term and long term disability benefits, attorney’s fees and costs and any other relief the Court “deems just and proper.”

Case 2:

On August 5, 2001, Teresa G. and her South Carolina disability attorney filed a lawsuit against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Greenville Division in an effort to force the insurer to pay Teresa G. her entitled disability benefits under ERISA (the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act of 1974). A Liberty Mutual Insurance Company employee, Teresa G. was a fully insured employee of the company when she filed a qualifying disability benefit claim and was denied her disability benefits. Consequently, Teresa G. appealed the insurer’s decision, exhausted her administrative remedies for pursuing her claim and was forced to file a lawsuit as Liberty Life “failed and refused to provide additional benefits to (Teresa G.).”

Alleging that Liberty Life was “operating under a conflict of interest which significantly influenced the[insurer] to deny [Teresa G.] claim,” Teresa G. and her disability attorney claim that the insurer ignored “relevant evidence” in Teresa G.’s claim and relied upon “biased information and flawed expert opinion” in the rendering of its decision to deny Teresa G.’s benefit claim, thus, creating a conflict of interest in that Liberty Life had a stake in the situation of providing Teresa G. with monies to satisfy her disability claim and disability benefits payments.

Relying on case law, specifically Champion v. Black & Decker, 550F.3d 353 (4th Cir., 2008), Teresa G. and her disability attorney ask the District Court to review the record and decide if Liberty Life indeed “abused its discretion” in denying Teresa G. her disability benefits. They ask the Court to remand Teresa G.’s claim back to Liberty Life for a “full and fair” review and request relief to Teresa G. for attorney’s fees and costs in addition to her disability benefits and any other appropriate remedies.

Case 3:

Lori T. and her South Carolina disability attorney filed a lawsuit against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston on August 5, 2011 in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Aiken Division under an ERISA (Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act0f 1974) claiming that the insurer wrongfully denied and continued to deny Lori T.’s disability benefits until Lori T. ran out of options except to file a complaint in District Court.

An employee of The Coca-Cola Company until 2009, when she ceased work due to a disability, Lori T. applied for disability benefits and was denied. After exhausting all administrative remedies to collect her ERISA plan disability benefits, Lori T. and her South Carolina disability attorney filed suit against the insurer claiming that as the “sole entity responsible for determining whether claims such as [Lori T.] should be paid,” Liberty Life abused its power as administrator and fiduciary of the plan in denying Lori T. her disability benefits.

Alleging that the insurer was acting under a conflict of interest which improperly and significantly influenced its claim decision in regards to Lori T., Lori T. and her attorney ask the district court for entitlement to “the long term disability benefits she seeks,” attorney’s fees and costs” and “other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”