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Bridgestone employee sues Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston for long term disability benefits

Sandra Cotton-Lyons filed a lawsuit against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Mutual), Administrator of the Bridgestone Americas, Inc. Long Term Disability Plan in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. As an employee of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (Bridgestone Firestone), Cotton-Lyons, a resident of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is a qualified, vested member in her employer’s disability insurance plan with Liberty Life.

The policy was effective for Cotton-Lyons on January 2, 2006. And, as the “sole authority to grant or deny benefits to applicants” under Cotton-Lyon’s plan, Liberty Life has a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions concerning Cotton-Lyons’s benefits claims. Consequently, when Liberty Life denies a claim, it risks being accused of having a conflict of interest in that decision. In addition, Liberty Life risks being accused of being “arbitrary and capricious” in such decisions when they it resorts to using its own discretion in making those decisions. Under these fiduciary obligations to its insured members, Liberty Life must administer its disability insurance plans “fairly and… furnish disability benefits according to the terms of” the subject Plan.

Tire-Builder Is Injured On the Job at Bridgestone

A 52-year-old tire-builder at Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Sandra Cotton-Lyons suffered an on-the -job injury on July 27, 2006, which resulted in several surgeries to her shoulder. When these surgeries resulted in Cotton-Lyons becoming totally disabled from performing her job, she ceased work and applied for her long term disability benefits and was initially granted those disability benefits.

Cotton-Lyons Appeals Liberty Life’s Denial of Disability Benefits

Then, Cotton-Lyons received a letter from Liberty Life, dated April 3, 2009 denying further disability benefits. Cotton-Lyons immediately appealed the insurer’s decision, submitted addition information, supported by medical records that proclaimed Cotton-Lyons totally disabled to perform her own employment or any other employment for that matter. In addition, the Social Security Administration declared Cotton-Lyons disabled and provided her with disability benefits under Title II and Title XVI.

On January 19, 2010, Cotton-Lyons was notified that Liberty Life was choosing to uphold its denial and notifying Cotton-Lyons that she had exhausted her administrative appeals with the insurer. This letter resulted in Cotton-Lyons being forced to file a lawsuit against the insurer in an attempt to receive her duly deserved disability benefits. Discounting Cotton-Lyon’s physician’s opinion, Liberty Life set itself up to be sued by Cotton-Lyons pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132.

Suffering from “axial neck and bilateral arm pain, spondylosis, disc disease and bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis,” Cotton-Lyons takes multiple pain medications, but continues to suffer from pain and prescription drug side effects in the form of “sedation and cognitive difficulties.” Consequently, Cotton-Lyons alleges that Liberty Life of Boston is wrongfully denying her disability benefits in violation of ERISA because she is totally disabled, cannot function at work, and the insurer refuses to “afford proper weight to the evidence” in evaluating Cotton-Lyon’s disability claim.

Cotton-Lyons Asks the District Court for Her Disability Benefits

Cotton-Lyons and her disability attorney asks the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for “declaratory and injunctive relief” so as to provide her with all past-due short term and long term disability benefits under her plan for the duration of her disability or until she reaches the termination age of her plan. In addition, Cotton-Lyons and her disability attorney request that the Court award her “reasonable attorney fees,” expenses, and any other relief that the Court sees as “just and appropriate.”

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Do you help Liberty Mutual claimants nationwide?

We represent Liberty Mutual 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 Liberty Mutual disability insurance policy?

Our disability insurance lawyers help policy holders seeking short or long term disability insurance benefits from Liberty Mutual. 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 Liberty Mutual.

How do you help Liberty Mutual claimants?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a Liberty Mutual 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 Liberty Mutual:

  • 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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Anna P. (Iowa)

Mr. Jessup was able to secure approval for my benefits beyond the 2 year mark. This is a critical time as the evidence must show that you can’t work any occupation. By engaging him before the two year mark we were able to avoid a lapse in claims or erisa appeal.

Mr. Jessup was very professional, kind, flexible, and ultimately got results. The assistant on our case was Michal and she was amazing throughout the case. Very professional, quick to respond to questions, organized, and proactive.

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