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Frontier Communications Employee and her New York Disability Lawyer File ERISA Lawsuit Against Prudential after Denial of Disability Benefits

Keeley Bamforth and her New York disability lawyer recently filed a lawsuit against Frontier Communications Corporation and Prudential Insurance Company of America in New York Federal Court in an attempt to collect her rightfully deserved disability benefits. Bamforth and her New York disability lawyer filed the complaint under the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act (ERISA) after Bamforth was denied disability benefits by Prudential.

In the complaint Bamforth and her New York disability lawyer ask the District Court of New York to grant Bamforth judgment against both defendants and provide her with:

  • Past due benefits to the date of judgment;
  • Declaration that Defendants will continue to pay Bamforth her disability benefits as provided under her policy;
  • Payment to Bamforth of $110.00/day by Frontier in civil penalties for failure to provide Bamforth with the required information about her policy she requested;
  • Judgment against both Defendants for Frontier’s termination of Bamforth in violation of ERISA ยง 510 restraining and enjoining Frontier from interfering with Bamforth’s entitlement to benefits under her plan with award of past due and future benefits until she reaches retirement age; and
  • Judgment against each defendant for attorney’s fees and court costs.

Background of the Complaint

Bamforth was an eligible member of her employer’s Disability Insurance Plan. She was provided with the Frontier Disability Plan Summary Plan Description (SPD) when she first became a member of the plan. However, when Bamforth requested a copy of the Frontier Communications Corporation Disability Plan Group Master Policy as well as other pertinent information about her benefits and records, she was not provided with those materials within the 30-day period required by law for the company to do so.

Bamforth, a Frontier Telephone Directory Clerk since 1989, was awarded short term disability benefits on January 11, 2010, having been determined to be totally disabled per the terms of her employee Prudential disability plan. In July of 2010, Bamforth’s short term disability benefits were terminated, and she was informed by letter that her long term disability benefits were being disallowed. Bamforth appealed this decision in October 2010 and November 2010, but Prudential did not grant either appeal.

Considered to have worked at a sedentary position during her tenure at Frontier, Bamforth had previously been awarded her disability benefits from January 2010 until June 2010, and thus, since short term benefits had been awarded, Bamforth and her New York lawyer argue that the decision to discontinue those benefits by Prudential was “arbitrary, and without any reasonable basis.” According to the policy, Bamforth would be entitled to long term disability benefits as long as she remains totally disabled, which she is, until retirement. Thus, it stands to reason that if Bamforth was disabled before June 2010 and was receiving disability benefits from Prudential, she would continue receiving those benefits as her condition has not changed. Continuing to meet the definition of total disability under the language of her employee Prudential plan, Bamforth requested that Frontier and Prudential provide her with information as to how they decided she was capable of work. Their response was “no response.”

Bamforth and her New York Disability Attorney File a Three-Count Lawsuit against Frontier and Prudential

Prudential terminated Bamforth’s disability benefits without seeking an independent medical examination and without identifying any “demonstrable improvement in [Bamforth’s] condition.” Consequently, Bamforth and her New York disability attorney filed a three count complaint against the insurer and her former employer. In the first count, Bamforth and her New York disability attorney demand that Prudential fulfill its responsibility to continue paying 53-year-old Bamforth her long term disability benefits in the amount of $1,117.56 bi-weekly.

In the second count of the complaint, Bamforth and her attorney allege that since Prudential didn’t provide Bamforth with all “pertinent” materials within thirty (30) days of her request, that they do so, and ask that the Court invoke a civil penalty of $110.00 per day for every day she wasn’t provided with that material. And, in the third count of the complaint, Bamforth and her New York disability attorney accuse Frontier of violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by terminating Bamforth’s employment in an attempt to interfere with Bamforth’s rights to receive her disability benefits from Prudential, which constitutes a violation of improper discrimination per ERISA.

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