A general surgeon and his legal team at Dell & Schaefer win disability insurance jury trial against Unum

In a federal court in Peoria, Illinois, a jury ruled against Unum Company (NYSE: UNM) and client will receive $246,000 in unpaid disability insurance benefits the insurer withheld from a general surgeon it had claimed was capable of conducting major surgeries, despite the surgeon’s difficulty standing for more than one hour at a time.

The eight-person jury, which included an employee from State Farm Insurance, headquartered nearby, ruled that Dr. Yogihn Parikh, who was a general surgeon at Hammond Henry Hospital in Genesco Il, was partially disabled, and as such was entitled to long-term disability benefits Unum had withheld under the disability insurance policy that Parikh purchased from them.

The case stemmed from an October 2004 claim filed with Unum by Parikh, in which the doctor, who had performed a wide range of major surgical procedures like appendectomies, colon resections and mastectomies, said that lower back pain has precluded him from performing the procedures, and thus greatly reduced his earning potential as a general surgeon. Unum denied the claim in April 2005, citing insufficient medical evidence for the claim.

Subsequent to Unum’s decision, Dr Parikh performed minor and less time-consuming surgical procedures, but gradually lost the ability to perform any surgical procedures. Since November 2008, he has not performed surgery. In the year before he filed the claim, his income as a surgeon was more than $300,000; in 2008, it slid dramatically, to about $60,000.

After the ruling, Parikh’s legal representative, disability insurance attorney Gregory Dell, said that his legal team will be pursuing an Illinois bad faith claim to help Parikh obtain an additional damages award up to 60% of the verdict and attorney fees in excess of $250,000. Dr. Parikh’s trial team included attorneys Gregory Denes, Gregory Dell and Cesar Gavidia.

Unum had maintained that there is insufficient evidence to support Parikh’s claim for benefits, based on the opinion of one of its hired physicians, who after a 20-minute exam of Parikh opined that he had no restrictions and limitations and was capable of performing such procedures as appendectomies, gall bladder removal, colon resections, hernias, mastectomies and other abdominal surgeries.

“This is a victory for Dr. Parikh, who was unfairly denied the benefits which he had paid Unum to provide in the event he was no longer able to perform his job as a general surgeon. It is also a victory for thousands of disability claimants suffering from subjective complaints of pain and the insurance companies deny their claim,” said Dell.

Dell noted Parikh’s case is not unusual. It is one of a host of cases in which Unum’s practices for denying claims have been called into question. Unum has been fined millions dollars for its unreasonable and unlawful denial of disability claims. Earlier this year, a Nevada jury awarded $60 million to a man that sued Unum for a bad faith denial of long-term disability benefits.

“This verdict demonstrates that Unum continues to ignore the 2004 agreement it entered into with 48 states, in which its practices for denying claims without reasonable justification were called into question,” Dell said.  During trial, a Unum employee testified that one way she could verify Dr. Parikh’s back pain would be “if he had a knife in his back.” The same Unum employee testified that she did not know whether an appendectomy required a person’s skin to be cut.

Questions About Hiring Us

Do you help Unum claimants nationwide?

We represent Unum clients nationwide and we encourage you to contact us for a FREE immediate phone consultation with one of our experienced disability insurance attorneys.

Can you help with a Unum disability insurance policy?

Our disability insurance lawyers help policy holders seeking short or long term disability insurance benefits from Unum. We have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants nationwide with monthly disability benefits. With more than 40 years of disability insurance experience we have helped individuals in almost every occupation and we are familiar with the disability income policies offered by Unum.

How do you help Unum claimants?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a Unum long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer.

Our experienced lawyers can assist with Unum:

  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Appeals of Disability Benefit Denials
  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Disability Benefit Lawsuits
  • Applying For Short or Long Term Disability Benefits
  • Daily Handling & Management of Your Disability Claim
  • Disability Insurance Lump-Sum Buyout or Settlement Negotiations

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.

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When my disability benefits were taken away, I was devastated. My benefits represented one-half of our income. After speaking with several disability law firms, I was impressed with Stephen Jessup’s knowledge, compassion, and attitude. Throughout the process of an appeal and settlement negotiations, he kept me informed on what was happening, and what the next step would be. He made sure I understood the process, and what to expect. His expertise throughout the settlement phase brought about a successful resolution that was more than I expected.

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