Broadspire ordered to pay disability insurance benefits but not attorney fees

If Judge Michael J. Reagan is beginning to tire of considering the case between Lisa Pakovich and her former employer’s long-term disability plan, he may have good reason to. He has had to listen to arguments from both Pakovich’s long-term disability attorneys and the Verizon Long-Term Disability Plan (Plan) attorneys at least four times in less than a year. He’s not the first judge to consider Pakovich’s claim. Pakovich v. Broadspire Services, Inc., 535 F. 3d has been cited in a number of Seventh Circuit decisions.

On March 24, 2010, Judge Reagan entered his ruling granting Pakovich’s motion for summary judgment. In response, Packovich’s disability attorneys filed a motion for attorney’s fees. Judge Reagan considered the motion to collect these fees on April 22, 2010. In his decision, he first breaks down the legal standard that guided his decision. Then he compares Pakovich’s motion against that standard.

Judge establishes the legal framework for determining whether disability attorneys should receive attorney’s fees.

In order to have the right to attorney’s fees, the disability attorney applying for compensation must have won a substantial part of the litigation. Then further matters must be considered. When a disability attorney wins an ERISA claim for his/her client, it by no means guarantees that the court will award attorneys fees. The presumption that such fees are appropriate is tempered by whether the disability insurance company had a justifiable position that was taken in good faith.

When the Court does decide that compensation for attorney’s fees is reasonable, the court expects the disability insurance attorney(s) to only include hours that were productively spent toward successful litigation efforts. Any hours spent litigating unsuccessful lawsuits are not billable. The Court expects that hours billed must be itemized sufficiently. This allows the Court to recognize when excessive, redundant or otherwise unnecessary charges have been included. The Court also requires sufficient details so the judge can determine whether the work performed is clearly connected to the litigation.

The Court also expects a disability attorney seeking attorney’s fees to use a reasonable hourly rate that compares with a rate used by other lawyers within the local market. The court expects the person applying for attorney’s fees, to provide evidence that supports the local market rate. Then if the opposing side believes that a lower rate should be awarded, it must present evidence for the court to consider.

Once the basic values of hourly rate and reasonable time expenditures have been established, the Court can adjust the final settlement based on 12 factors. They may work alone or in conjunction with each other.

  1. The time and labor involved in comparison to the complexity of the case.
  2. The novelty and difficulty of the questions brought before the Court.
  3. The skill the attorney had to possess in order to provide acceptable legal services.
  4. The inability of the attorney to accept other cases in order to handle the claim.
  5. The customary fee of other attorneys practicing in the same specialty.
  6. Whether the attorney charges a fixed fee or contingent fees.
  7. Time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances
  8. The amount of money involved in settling the claim and the results obtained.
  9. The experience, reputation, and ability of the disability attorney(s).
  10. The ‘undesirability’ of the disability benefits case.
  11. The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client.
  12. Awards paid by other courts in similar cases.

Court determines that the prevailing disability attorney has a right to attorney’s fees.

Pakovich not only prevailed, but the Court sided overwhelmingly in her favor. Judge Reagan, having seen the actions of the Verizon Plan for almost a year, had reason to question the good faith of the organization. Her disability attorneys had represented her five times since June 22, 2005, yet it took the disability insurance plan more than seven months to determine whether they were going to pay her benefits or not after the Court of Appeals remanded her case back to Verizon’s Long-term Disability Plan for consideration under the “any occupation” provisions of the Plan. The Court found the Plan’s opposition to paying attorney’s fees failed to meet the ERISA standard of good faith. An award of attorney’s fees under ERISA was clearly warranted.

Court denies motion for disability attorney fees and costs for two reasons.

Unfortunately for Pakovich, the Seventh Circuit had already denied a motion for fees and costs incurred since the Court order entered on November 7, 2006. Pakovich’s disability attorney claimed that the appellate court had made a premature decision when it denied the motion for a reasonable settlement for the fees incurred during the hearing and rehearing process.

While the Court had originally denied the motion without explanation, after the appeal the Court affirmed the decision because the Court did not find that Broadspire Services/Verizon Plan had set out to harass Pakovich. Rather the disability insurance provider was defending a reasonable position. When both an equal and a higher court had already said no to a payout of attorney’s fees, Judge Reagan could not justify a decision that contradicted the previous ruling.

In addition to the prior Court ruling on this issue, Judge Reagan found another serious issue with Pakovich’s request for attorney’s fees. The disability attorney made a major blunder, which may have secured Judge Reagan’s unwillingness to reverse the ruling on attorney’s fees from the prior Court decisions. He failed to provide acceptable documentation as mandated under ERISA.

He did not provide receipts, invoices or vouchers to verify the amounts he was claiming in the motion. He did not provide the mandatory documentation to support an hourly rate within the local economy for typical disability attorney fees. He didn’t provide a reasonable breakdown of the hours worked preparing Pakovich’s disability claim or representing her. None of the information that would have assisted Judge Reagan in assessing the claim for attorney’s fees against the 12 guidelines were available for the Court to consider.

Instead, the disability attorney asked the Court to accept a single invoice with only two invoice items on it – one item showing his own fees and the other fees for “SGS”. The Court could only guess that the disability attorney felt that something around $300 an hour was appropriate for himself, and $90 an hour was appropriate for SGS. Having failed to provide the Court with any affidavits supporting the reasonableness of these fees, the Court had no option but to deny the motion for an award of attorney’s fees connected with bringing Pakovich’s case before the Courts for a fourth time.

While there is no way to know if Judge Reagan would have reconsidered his decision if Pakovich’s disability attorney had presented all of the required documentation for a favorable ERISA attorney’s fee decision, there was evidence in his decision that suggests he would have been willing to apply the ERISA guidelines to the situation.

Judge Reagan observed the fact that Pakovich had found herself in court yet again on March 24, 2010. In his eyes, this demonstrated that the Verizon Plan was not acting in good faith on the July 29, 2009 decision of the Court ordering the Plan to re-evaluate Pakovich’s claim under the “any occupation” terms of the Plan. He found that taking seven months to evaluate a claim that had been in the Courts for four years already seemed excessive.

It is a shame that this disability attorney did so much great work on behalf of his client yet failed to receive an award of attorney fees. Hopefully under the new US Supreme Court standard for obtaining attorney fees it will be easier for disability claimants to receive attorney fee awards. See our recent article discussing award of attorney fees.


Did you find this helpful?
Unhelpful (0)

Resources to Help You Win Disability Benefits

Disability Benefit Denial Options
Submit a Strong Broadspire Appeal Package

We work with you, your doctors, and other experts to submit a very strong Broadspire appeal.

Learn more

Sue Broadspire

We have filed thousands of disability denial lawsuits in federal Courts nationwide against Broadspire.

Learn more

Protect Your Benefits
Get Your Broadspire Disability Application Approved
We help claimants throughout the entire application process.

Learn more

Prevent a Broadspire Disability Benefit Denial
We manage every aspect of your disability claim following claim approval.

Learn more

Negotiate a Broadspire Lump-Sum Settlement

Our goal is to negotiate the highest possible buyout of your long-term disability policy.

Learn more

Broadspire Reviews
(0)
Answered Questions by Our Lawyers
(0)
Helpful Videos
(861)
Showing 12 of 861 Videos
Disability Benefit Tips
(330)
Showing 8 of 330 Benefit Tips

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #5 – Your Medical Evidence is Weak

If you're seeking long term disability benefits from an insurance company, you may be concern... Read More >

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #4 - Your Doctor Is Misled By the Disability Company

When you're seeking disability benefits under a long term disability policy, your medical rec... Read More >

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #3 - Video & Social Media Surveillance

One thing many long term disability claimants don't know about (or expect) from the claims re... Read More >

How Do You Fight a Long-Term Disability Denial?

Getting a denial letter from your disability insurance company is one of the ultimate insults... Read More >

Disability Denial Reason #2 - Change of Disability Definition & Vocational Review

One of the top reasons for terminating a claimant's long term disability benefits involves th... Read More >

Disability Denial Reason #1 – Paper Review & IME

At Dell Disability Lawyers, we've seen insurance companies give countless reasons to deny lon... Read More >

How to Apply for Reliance Standard Disability Benefits & Top 5 Reasons for a Claim Denial

At Dell & Schaefer we’ve handled hundreds of long term disability insurance claims against Reliance Standard, and have learned a few thi... Read More >

Applying for Standard Disability Benefits? Top 5 Claim Denial Reasons

At Dell & Schaefer, we've helped hundreds of clients recover long term disability benefit... Read More >
Dell Disability Cases
(369)
Showing 8 of 369 Dell Disability Cases

Engineer With Depression Wins Prudential LTD Appeal

The claimant is a former Senior Technology Services Engineer for Accolade, Inc. who was force... Read More >

New York Life Approves Disability Benefits for School Teacher With Multiple Sclerosis

Our client, a former elementary school teacher suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, contacted our office after New York Life terminated her clai... Read More >

Lincoln Denies Disability Insurance Benefits to 66 Years old Software Developer with Long Covid and MS

Our client came to us after he was denied continued Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company. Previ... Read More >

Lincoln LTD Denial Reversed for an Occupational Therapist that was Denied Benefits After 24 Months

Our now client came to us after she received a denial letter following her receipt of long term disability b... Read More >

Nurse With Knee and Back Disorder Wins Hartford Disability Appeal

We represent a General Duty Nurse who was denied long term disability benefits as Hartford im... Read More >

Dell Disability Lawyers Win Disability Insurance Appeal Against Prudential for KPMG Employee

Our client, a former Managing Director - Tax Consultant for KPMG contacted our office after h... Read More >

Lawyer Wins 24 Month Mental Nervous Prudential Disability Denial

Our client, a former law partner of a large national law firm, filed for disability with Prud... Read More >

How does Reliance Standard deny long term disability benefits after paying for three years?

A former Payroll Manager for Solairus Aviation, a large Private Jet Charter and Aircraft Mana... Read More >
Disability Lawsuit Stories
(764)
Showing 8 of 764 Lawsuit Stories

Cytec Industries and Broadspire Services discontinue disability insurance benefits for army veteran suffering from PTSD

An Appeals Court recently upheld the decision by Cytec Industries and Broadspire Services to discontinue short-term disability benefits for an... Read More >

Broadspire Services terminate long-term disability benefits after paying for 8 years

A Federal Appellate Court recently upheld the decision by Eaton Corporation and Broadspire Services to discontinue the long-term disability be... Read More >

Disability company ignores evidence of disabling back pain and Federal Court reverses disability benefit denial

Once again we look at one of those cases that prove how important it can be to appeal the decision of a District Court. Suzanne Lee had been a... Read More >

Seven pieces of medical evidence and disability company still denies claim for lack of "objective evidence"

When Suzanne Lee first had to miss work on January 18, 2005 for chronic back pain, she had been a manager at BellSouth for almost 10 years. Sh... Read More >

Disability battle against Verizon and Broadspire long-term disability plan lingers in courts for years

Lisa Pakovich and her former employer's long-term disability plan had been in and out of court for almost five years when Judge Michael Reagan... Read More >

Broadspire ordered to pay disability insurance benefits but not attorney fees

If Judge Michael J. Reagan is beginning to tire of considering the case between Lisa Pakovich and her former employer's long-term disability p... Read More >

HM Life and Broadspire wrongfully deny disability insurance benefits to a receptionist and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses claim denial

When Barbara Sterio's disability attorney presented arguments on February 11, 2010 before the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals, he... Read More >

Systems support specialist wins disability benefits case against Coca-Cola and Broadspire

Theron Oliver was a Systems Support Specialist working for Coca-Cola, which provided long-term disability benefits to its employees. In Octobe... Read More >

Reviews from Our Clients

Request a Free Consultation

Our Lawyers Respond Same Day

5 Ways We Help Get Your Benefits Paid

Get Your Disability Application Approved

Our goal is to get your application for disability income benefits approved. Applying for disability benefits can be a difficult process and the information you provide is critical. Most disability insurance companies look at your application in hopes of finding a reason to deny your claim. Your disability company will ask you to complete numerous forms, interview you, request lots of information, speak with your doctors and possibly request to have you examined by their "hired gun" doctor.

Through our experience of having helped thousands of disability insurance claimants, our lawyers will guide you through the entire application process and give you the best chance to get your disability claim approved the first time.

Submit A Strong Appeal Package

If your disability insurance benefits have been wrongfully denied, then our lawyers know exactly what it takes to get your disability claim approved. You only get once chance to submit an Appeal, therefore every piece of evidence that will support your disability claim must be included. The goal is to win your disability benefits at the Appeal level, but while preparing your Appeal you must consider how a federal judge will review your disability claim if your benefit denial is upheld.

Preparing a strong disability appeal package is an art that requires you to understand how the courts interpret your disability policy language, ERISA regulations / laws, and how to strategically present evidence in support of your definition of "disability". We encourage you to contact any of our lawyers for a free immediate review of your disability denial.

Sue Your Disability Company

98% of the disability insurance lawsuits filed by our law firm have resulted in either the payment of benefits or a lump-sum settlement agreement. Our disability lawyers have filed ERISA governed and private policy long term disability insurance lawsuits against every major disability insurance company in state and federal courts nationwide and we love fighting for the "little guy" against the multi-billion dollar insurance company giants.

We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and we would like the opportunity to provide you with a free review of your disability benefit denial. There are many complex factors in a disability benefit lawsuit and the legal battle to win long term disability benefits can be fierce.

Prevent A Disability Benefit Denial

Approval of long-term disability is a continuous process as every disability insurance company will evaluate your eligibility for benefits on a monthly basis. You can never let your guard down and assume that your disability company will continue to pay your benefits for as long as you think you need them.

Our law firm offers a reasonable flat fee monthly claim handling service in which we handle every aspect of your long-term disability claim and do whatever it takes to make sure you are paid every month.

Negotiate a Lump-Sum Settlement

Let's discuss if a lump-sum settlement or buyout of your disability insurance claim is both available and makes financial sense for you. Our lawyers have negotiated more than five-hundred million dollars in disability insurance buyouts and we know how to get you a maximum settlement. A disability insurance company is not required to offer a buyout and not every disability company offers them.

Questions About Hiring Us

Who are Dell Disability Lawyers?

We are disability insurance lawyers that know how to get your short or long term disability benefits paid. As a nationwide law firm we have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants throughout the United States to collect hundreds of millions of dollars of disability insurance benefits from every major disability insurance company.

In more than 98% of our cases, our lawyers have been able to either get our clients paid monthly disability benefits or obtain a one-time lump-sum settlement. Our lawyers have seen it all when it comes to disability insurance claims and we know exactly what it takes for your disability claim to be approved.

We welcome you to contact any of our attorneys for a free immediate review of your disability claim. We also invite you to visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have more than 700 videos and regularly provide tips to help protect your disability benefits.

Who do you help?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer. We have helped individuals in almost every type of occupation with monthly disability benefit payments ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.

Our clients include all types of employees ranging from retail associates, sales representatives, government employees, police officers, teachers, janitors, nurses, pilots, truck drivers, financial advisors, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, consultants, IT professionals, engineers, professional athletes, business owners, and high level executives.

A strong understanding and presentation of the duties of your occupation is essential for securing disability insurance benefits.

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 phone, email, fax, GoToMeeting 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 800-698-9159 or by email. Lawyers 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.