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Five disability lawsuits recently filed against UNUM in Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, and Michigan

Five ERISA disability lawsuits have been recently filed against the UNUM Life Insurance Company of America for the wrongful denial of disability benefits. In each of the cases, a disability attorney from Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan have filed suit for the payment of disability benefits that have been wrongfully denied and owed to their clients. Let’s take a closer look at each of the lawsuits.

Case 1: Disability Benefits Lawsuit filed in Tennessee Against UNUM by Time Warner Employee

A miscalculation of disability benefits resulted in the filing of a lawsuit against Time Warner and UNUM Life Insurance Company of American under the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on August 9, 2011. In the lawsuit, the Plaintiff and his Tennessee disability attorney ask the District Court to order UNUM Life to “provide appropriate benefits” for the employee by correctly and accurately calculating the employee’s disability benefits and provide him with:

In the lawsuit, the employee accuses the insurer of being arbitrary and capricious in its denial to re-calculate his benefits. As a sufferer of Peroneal Muscular Atrophy, a progressive disease, the employee’s condition will not improve to any significant degree that would allow him to return to work. Disabled and receiving disability benefits since February 27, 2010, the Employee is some $721.28 short each month due to miscalculation of his disability benefits by the insurer. After repeatedly requesting a review of his disability benefits amount, and the swapping of emails in which UNUM’s evaluators provided the employee with confusing and contradictory information, the employee appeals for a reevaluation of his claim has expired, leaving him no option but to file suit against UNUM.

Case 2: Disability Benefits Lawsuit filed in Ohio against UNUM by Human Resources Manager

In the United States District Court of the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division, a Human Resources Manager at CTL filed suit on July 15, 2011 against UNUM Life Insurance in an effort to procure his rightfully entitled disability benefits from the insurer. Gerald O. had worked for the engineering firm since 1992 performing the function of both office manager and facility manager until he succumbed to his disabling condition and ceased work on July 20, 2009 because of an inability to perform his assigned job duties. With duties that consisted of “both sedentary office work, as well as on and off sit non-sedentary work” requiring walking, transporting heavy objects and building maintenance duties (occasional landscaping and snow removal), Gerald O. became disabled following an injury at work that caused him to sustain “a lumbar strain/sprain injury to his lower back.” Suffering from a diagnosed disc bulge, Gerald O. suffers from “constant back pain and numbness in his legs.” Unable to walk, stand, sit or do any sedentary work due to” pain, Gerald O.’s September 2009 claim application to UNUM for long term disability was denied. Subsequently, his appeals were also denied by the insurer with UNUM determining that in its view Oreste’s pain was not so severe that it precluded him “from performing sedentary work.

Relying on on-site medical reviewers, all unacquainted personally with Gerald O., UNUM refused to reveal the identity of Gerald O.’s claim reviewers so as to give Gerald O. an opportunity to “rebut the reviewer’s findings as permitted by ERISA.” After supplying more documentation and medical records attesting to his condition, Gerald O. was unable to convince the insurer to recant its denial of disability benefits. With no other option available, Gerald O. and his disability attorney filed a two-count lawsuit against the insurer for wrongful denial of benefits and breach of fiduciary duties and requested that the Ohio District Court order the insurer to pay his disability benefits as well as attorney’s fees to make this situation right.

Case 3: Disability Benefits Lawsuit filed in Missouri against UNUM

A disability lawyer and his client filed a lawsuit against UNUM Life under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to assist Steve M. in his quest to receive the long term disability benefits he is entitled to under his employee insurance plan with his employer Central Bank of Kansas City. A bank employee since 1987, Steve M. ceased working in 2009 due to “severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, recurrent bronchitis, sleep apnea, Hepatitis C and Interferon therapy, and reactive depression, and anxiety. According to Steve M.’s physician, he is disabled. And according to the Social Security Administrative, which declared Steve M. totally disabled in 2005, Steve M. received SSDI benefits and then returned to work in 2007, only to be terminated in 2009 due to his disability.

Unable to work, Steve M. applied for his ERISA governed disability benefits from UNUM in 2009 and was summarily denied his long term disability benefits originally and on appeal, forcing Steve M. to file the subject lawsuit against the insurer. According to the complaint that Steve M. and his lawyer filed on August 15, 2011, UNUM wrongfully denied Steve M. his ERISA-protected benefits and has breached its fiduciary duty. Consequently, the two ask the Missouri District Court to:

Case 4: Disability Benefits Lawsuit filed in Michigan against UNUM

In their suit filed against UNUM Life Insurance Company in the United States Eastern District Court of Michigan (Southern Division), a health care employee and her disability attorney allege that the insurer ignored the medical records of Goldine F. when it discontinued paying her disability benefits in contradiction to the insurer’s ERISA plan terms and conditions. A sufferer of degenerative disc disease, Goldine F.’s insurance disability benefits relief was short-lived.

In a letter, dated March 16, 2009, the insurer enumerated Goldine F.’s maladies, all which supported her disability and proceeded to discontinue her benefits anyway. And, while all insurance policies provide for some discretion, UNUM’s discontinuation of Goldine F.’s disability benefits was unwarranted. Entitled to restoration of her disability benefits, Goldine F. has had to resort to hiring a disability lawyer to assist her in the pursuit of the restoration of her disability benefits from UNUM. With overwhelming evidence in support of her disabling condition, Goldine F. and her lawyer have asked the District Court of Michigan to enter a judgment in favor of Goldine F. and against UNUM and force the insurer to restore Goldine F.’s entitled disability benefits.

Case 5: Disability Benefits Lawsuit filed in Michigan against UNUM

An outside marketer, Henry L. was forced to cease work in August of 2009 due to multiple medical problems. Unable to “engage in any type of gainful employment,” Henry L.’s original claim for disability benefits to UNUM was honored and he collected disability benefits for nine months. Then, as of March 23, 2010, Laten’s disability benefits were revoked contrary to medial and other evidence of Henry L.’s disabling conditions.

Henry L. promptly appealed the termination of his disability benefits from UNUM and has wrongfully been denied his disability benefits by the insurer. Consequently, Henry L. and his disability lawyer filed a complaint in the United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan to ask the Court to force the insurer to award him entitled disability benefits, attorney’s fees, court costs, and interest.

There are 4 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

James Smith:

I am considering legal action against UNUM LTD Insurance for discontinuing my LTD coverage. I am also considering legal action due to harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress by one of UNUM’s claims reps for reasons outlined in the final two paragraphs.

I was awarded LTD benefits from UNUM for a period of 24 months, which is the time limit imposed by UNUM for disabilities concerning mental illness. UNUM continued to disregard the physical disabilities and stopped paying my LTD benefits after the 24 month mental health period had expired. However, UNUM did continue to pay LTD for a few days after the max mental period expired due to a foot surgery.

I have protested UNUM’s apparent dismissal of my physical disabilities and have appealed their decision to terminate my benefits. I have not received the response to that appeal, but I feel it very unlikely that the decision to terminate will be reversed.

Other than the “mental health” issue that UNUM maintains is my only basis of disability, my primary care provider, Dr. Victor Chu, sent a letter to UNUM listing several of my disabling conditions that are not necessarily mental in nature. Some of my medical issues Dr. Chu relayed to UNUM included cardiac dysrhythmia, obstructive apnea, fibromyalgia, hypersomnia, osteoarthritis multiple sites, depression, chronic back pain, malaise and fatigue, thrombocytopenia, degenerative disk disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, memory loss, problems concentrating, migraine headaches and abnormality of gate. There are other issues DR. Chu did not disclose to UNUM. In that letter, Dr. Chu states that I am disabled and I would be a danger to myself and to others if forced by UNUM to attempt to return to work.

I was also subject to harassment by one of UNUM’s claims reps. I was repeatedly called to questioned or to be ordered to do something that UNUM felt would be my best method of treatment. I had reminded UNUM of a direct link between sleep apnea and mental health issues. Shortly after that reminder I received a phone call by that UNUM rep stating that she had gone completely through my file and there was no mention of Sleep Apnea mentioned anywhere in my file. I knew this to be a total fabrication meant to harass or intimidate me, as part of my original claim request application sleep apnea was sited as a reason of disability.

I received another call some time later, again by the same UNUM rep. telling me that she had contacted my counsellor and that I had not attended any counselling sessions. She told me that I had failed to follow her instructions to attend counselling and my benefits were being immediately terminated. After talking with my counsellor I discovered no one from UNUM had been in contact with her. I then contacted the UNUM rep to inform her that no one had talked to my counsellor and that I had attended every scheduled session. I told the rep the name and contact information for my counsellor, which I had provided to UNUM before I started attending counselling. The rep told me once again that she had gone through my complete file and there was no mention of my counsellor listed. This I also knew to be a lie as I had personally provided UNUM with that information months earlier. I complained of this re’s behaviour to her supervisor, who did verify to me via telephone that the information in question was indeed in my file.

Attorney Greg Dell:

James,

The experience you have had with Unum sounds terrible. Hopefully you will win your appeal. If your appeal is denied, contact us privately and we can discuss your lawsuit options. If you have any additional medical records that you have not sent to Unum, then you must file them now.

Michelle Wilson:

I am duty disability from Detroit Fire Dept and I was injuried on the job and now the city is going to cancel our health insurance that we work our butts off and getting injuried on the job. I put my life on the line everyday working in the City of Detroit and getting injuried on the job all I get is 46.50 from SSI and if I am lucky a total of 220.00 a month from the City of Detroit by the time they take our my 556.00 health insurance payment. We only have 386 injuried firefighter/ems techs that were hurt on the job and that is 1% that Fox 2 news found out the information, yet the City can file bankruptcy and not have to take care of us retirees who put our years on the job and our lives on the line? We need help, can anyone one help us? Please let me know. My email is Michelle_wilson26@hotmail.com. I cannot continue to survive off of this joke of income, I make only 8,100.00 a year – way, way below poverty, not right… I was injuried on the job had 4 back surgeries and need another one and I could use a lot of medical equipment and prescriptions. Please help! Michelle Wilson 313 320 6794.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Michelle,

As the basis of your disability from work is related to an on the job accident, my advice would be to consult with a worker’s compensation attorney or employment attorney to discuss what rights, if any, you may have with the city.

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