Liberty Life Assurance had three ERISA lawsuits filed against it in the United States District Courts of Pennsylvania in July 2011 by disability attorneys. All three cases allege that Prudential is not upholding its duties in the awarding of disability benefits to entitled employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Registered Nurse and her Disability Attorney Challenge Liberty Life’s Denial of Disability Benefits
In Kelly Lucas v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston et. al., Lucas and her disability attorney filed suit against the insurer on July 11, 2011 after Lucas had exhausted all her administrative remedies for receiving her rightful disability benefits as provided to her in her Geisinger System Services Plan. A vested member in Geisinger’s Liberty Life insurance plan, Lucas, a registered nurse who had been employed at Geisinger for several years, ceased working at the company on November 4, 2004 due to “lumbar degenerative disc disease and internal derangement of the left knee.” Continuously disabled since that time, Lucas was approved monthly disability benefits that began on May 3, 2005. Shortly after this, on June 2, 2006, Lucas was also awarded Social Security benefits, and on May 3, 2007, Liberty Life terminated their disability benefit contribution to Lucas “claiming she no longer met the definition of disability.”
After review of Lucas’ medical records, Liberty Life reinstated her disability benefits in December of 2008 and then again terminated those disability benefits on December 3, 2008. Lucas provided the insurer with current, additional medical records, and again, the insurer reinstated her disability benefits. Once again, in March 2009, the insurer terminated Lucas’ benefits claiming she was no longer disabled; and this time when Lucas appealed, Liberty denied the appeal which led Lucas and her disability attorney to file the subject lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Lucas and her disability attorney request the District Court order Liberty to restore Lucas’ long-term disability benefits per Lucas’ plan and demand they continue those payments into the future.
Comcast Employee and his Disability Attorney File a Lawsuit against Liberty Life for Denied Disability Benefits
In James Falgione v. Liberty life Assurance Company of Boston, Falgione and his disability attorney ask the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to provide Falgione with the following relief as a result of his denial of disability benefits from Liberty Life:
- Pass judgment in favor of Lucas and demand Liberty Life provide Lucas with all disability benefits due him under his Liberty Life employee insurance plan;
- Award Lucas reasonable attorney’s fees and costs under ERISA; and
- Award Lucas any “other legal or equitable relief as the court deems appropriate.”
An employee of Comcast Corporation, Falgione was insured under a policy purchase by Comcast from Liberty Life. With a significant amount of medical ailments, Falgione became fully disabled, but was denied his disability benefits from Liberty Life. After exhausting all his administrative appeals and supplying Liberty Life with ample medical evidence proving his disability benefits, Falgione engaged a disability attorney to plead his case.
Meniere’s Disease Sufferer and Her Disability Attorney Files Suit against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston in the United States District Court of Pennsylvania
In Lynda Schreiner v. Comcast Comprehensive Health and Welfare Benefit Plan and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, Schreiner and her disability lawyer filed a lawsuit against Liberty Life in the United Stated District Court of The Eastern District of Pennsylvania on July 5, 2011. Suffering from Meniere’s Disease, which causes imbalance and dizziness, Schreiner ceased working at Comcast on April 30, 2010. A Purchase & Procurement Representative, Schreiner received her entitled short term disability benefits from May 10, 2010 until June 25, 2010, but was denied continued benefits in a letter dated September 25, 2010, which Schneider received three months after the date on the letter. She then was issued a “Second Request” denial letter by Liberty Life on November 8, 2010. Providing Liberty Life with some seventy-five faxed pages documenting her appeal and with medical records attached, Schneider appealed the insurer’s decision.
In response, Liberty Life conducted a panel peer review, whose evaluators were not convinced of Schneider’s disability and based on their opinion, Liberty Life upheld its earlier decision to deny Schneider’s disability benefits. With no alternatives left for appeal, Schneider and her disability attorney filed the subject complaint. In March 2011, Schneider’s disability lawyer requested a “complete copy” of Schneider’s administrative record and was advised the record had been misplaced. After other requests, Schneider’s disability attorney received a copy of the records on May 3, 2011.
Upon review of Schneider’s administrative record, her disability attorney determined that he was not provided with the entire record. Consequently, in their lawsuit Schneider and her disability attorney ask the District Court to review Schneider’s Liberty Life documents and award Schneider her contractual disability benefits per the terms of her Liberty Life plan, award interest on unpaid accrued disability benefits, to continue to pay Schneider’s disability benefits until such time as she no longer meets the conditions of her policy, award her attorney’s fees and Court costs, and other relief as appropriate.