In Cheryl Lynn Alexander v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America et. al., Cheryl Alexander and her California disability lawyer have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Central District of California in an attempt to procure Alexander’s disability benefits, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, interest, and costs. Filing her claim under the authority of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974), Alexander has asked the Court to force Prudential to comply with its obligation to pay her disability benefits pursuant to the insurance plan she has with Prudential.
Alexander filed her disability application with Prudential around September 15, 2005. After initially awarding Alexander short term disability benefits, Prudential abruptly terminated those same short term disability benefits on March 13, 2006, and disallowed her long term disability benefits application, saying that Alexander’s disability was the result of a pre-existing condition. In a surprising reversal, Prudential reinstated Alexander’s short and long term benefits in October 2007, and then withdrew the benefits again in February 2009. After exhausting all ERISA appeal processes available to her, Alexander filed a lawsuit against Prudential and her previous employer KPMG, LLP to recover her long term disability benefits as soon as possible.
Basis For ERISA Statutory Damages
Having requested a “number of highly relevant documents and information” that she should have been provided, Alexander alleges that Prudential “failed and refused” to provide her with the documents as provided in ERISA, and consequently “triggered civil penalties as provided by ERISA.” At the time of her disability, Alexander worked at KPMG LLP as an Audit Associate who fully qualified for disability benefits under the company’s Prudential Insurance Plan. According to the Plan, Alexander was entitled to disability benefits as well as continuing employee collateral benefits that included health insurance, life insurance, pension and/or savings plan and similar benefits, “during the pendency of her disability.”
Alexander provided ample documentation of her disability and met all conditions and terms of the Prudential Plan to receive her benefits, but was denied these benefits in violation of ERISA. As a result of the denial of her disability benefits, Alexander has suffered a “loss of salary replacement benefits . . . employee collateral benefits” and other benefits provided by KPMG’s Prudential Insurance Plan. Consequently, Alexander has been forced to engage the representation of a California disability insurance lawyer to file this lawsuit on her behalf. In addition to the recovery of disability benefits, Alexander is entitled to statutory damages, “in an amount to be proven at trial, of $110 per day for each document sought, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c)(1).”
Alexander’s Plea To The United States District Court Of The Central District of California
In her lawsuit Alexander asks the Court to rule that Prudential, KPMG LLP and any other parties who have violated her rights to her disability benefits for:
- Damages for all unpaid benefits to date as well as unpaid employee collateral benefits Interest on these benefits
- A “declaration of the respective rights and duties of” the parties involved in this lawsuit
- Statutory damages as stipulated by ERISA for “failure to provide requested documents and information
- Attorneys’ Fees
- Court costs
- Any other relief the Court deems proper