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Lockheed Martin Employee with Coccidioidomycosis Is Denied Disability Insurance Benefits By CIGNA

Christopher Arnold, with nowhere else to turn to receive his CIGNA long term disability insurance benefits, filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Denver Colorado on June 14, 2011. In his complaint, Arnold and his Colorado disability attorney petitioned the Court for the following relief:

  • Recovery of Arnold’s long-term disability benefits due under his CIGNA disability plan;
  • Recovery of Arnold’s pre- and post-judgment interest as allowed by law;
  • Recovery of Arnold’s reasonable attorney fees and suit costs; and
  • Any other relief the District Court of Denver, Colorado deems just and proper.

Christopher Arnold and his Colorado Disability Lawyer File Arnold’s Lawsuit under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)

In his disability insurance lawsuit, Arnold alleges that CIGNA violated 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) when the insurer terminated his long term disability benefits, claiming that CIGNA unreasonably, arbitrarily, and capriciously failed to base their decision to terminate his disability benefits on a “correct application of Policy language.” Claiming that CIGNA conducted an inadequate investigation of Arnold’s claim, failed to fully and fairly review Arnold’s claim, and mishandled Arnold’s claim with “serious procedural irregularities,” Arnold and his Colorado disability attorney ask the Court for assistance.

Background of Arnold’s Disability Benefit Claim Against Cigna Disability Insurance Company

A staff database engineer at Lockheed Martin Corporation for more than 21 years, Christopher Arnold contracted a “dangerous and life-threatening fungal infection during an October 2006 business trip to Las Cruces and White Sands Air Force Base in New Mexico. The infection, Coccidioidomycosis (referred to as “Valley Fever” or “Desert Fever”), is contracted by inhalation of microscopic spores of the fungus Coccidioides immitis found in certain limited areas of dry desert soil in Southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Arnold Contracts Coccidioidomycosis

An oft-misdiagnosed condition, Coccidioidomycosis causes symptoms similar in nature to influenza and attacks the lungs and sinuses. However, once contracted, the fungal infection must be promptly treated (within three to four months of initial infection) to prevent the fungus from spreading throughout the body and causing the sufferer to experience inflammation, fluid build-up, and lesions capable of producing permanent scarring.

Coccidioidomycosis is a systemic infection, and once it breaches the lining of the lungs is transported throughout the body. In its early stages, the fungal infection may lay dormant for up to 20 years, but once the infection becomes systemic, it is considered a chronic and incurable condition. At this point, the infected person requires life-long treatment because left untreated, the condition can lead to meningitis, a fatal disease.
In addition, the powerful fungistatic drugs required to control the fungal infection have significant toxic and other side effects.

As for Arnold, he was exposed to the fungus in 2005, at which time he experienced the flu-like symptoms characteristic of the infection but was not diagnosed with Coccidioidomycosis until March 2007, when symptoms returned.

In 2007, Arnold underwent emergency surgery for “debridement of the infection in his right ankle” as a direct result of the fungal infection. Consequently, due to the delay of a proper diagnosis, Arnold now suffers bone and tissue damage (particularly around his right ankle), liver damage, nerve damage in his right leg, groin, lower intestine and upper left leg, resulting in constant and severe pain, requiring Arnold to take prescription nerve blockers and narcotic painkillers as well as other medications for the control of the infection itself. Obviously, Arnold no longer is able to function at his work on a full time basis.

He has opted to work a restricted job schedule, and Lockheed Martin has accommodated his reduced work schedule. Arnold works a 20-hour week, for the most part, and struggles to maintain that schedule.

Arnold Initially Receives CIGNA Disability Benefits with Later Revocation of Same

Arnold has been insured by CIGNA through his employer throughout his working career, and was, in fact, awarded short term disability benefits from the insurer for 10 months. Then in early 2008, Arnold was approved by CIGNA to receive long term disability benefits, but those benefits were terminated on June 16, 2009 when CIGNA made the determination that Arnold was no longer disabled according to his CIGNA disability policy.

Arnold appealed the termination to no avail and again CIGNA affirmed their termination decision in a letter to Arnold on January 26, 2010, insisting that Arnold did not have enough medical evidence to support his disabled claim. Arnold seeks assistance from the United States District Court of Denver, Colorado to decide his future disability award from CIGNA.



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