On July 5, 2011, Annie T. Merion and her disability attorney filed a lawsuit against UNUM Life Insurance Company of America in the United States District of Georgia, Macon Division on a claim for long term disability benefits. As a governmental employee plan for disability benefits, Merion’s claim is excluded from being a plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Merion, however, was entitled to her disability plans as she was covered under a UNUM disability plan that was provided through the Peach County Board of Education. As such, Merion brought her claim against UNUM Life because of its termination of her disability benefits that are owed her.
Merion became disabled in November of 2007 when she was forced to cease work due to a “myriad of impairments including, but not limited to” Fibromyalgia; hypertension; stroke; chest pain; face numbness; high blood pressure; and other impairments.” Having initially approved Merion’s claim, the insurer terminated her disability benefits on September 25, 2009. UNUM refused to reopen or further consider Merion’s claim after she appealed the termination decision and claimed that Merion did not provide the insurer with sufficient documentation to verify her disabled condition under the “own occupation” standard of her Peach County Board of Education disability benefits plan.
Merion’s Georgia Disability Attorney Gives Notice of Merion’s Plan to Initiate Legal Proceedings against UNUM
Claiming that UNUM disregarded Merion’s medical and vocational documents demonstrating that she was indeed disabled, Merion and her Georgia disability attorney had no other options but to file her complaint and allow the United States District Court Macon Decision decide the issue. Using O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6, Merion and her Georgia disability attorney notified UNUM of her intent to: “pursue a bad faith claim if its decision to deny her benefits was not reversed.” UNUM, however, chose to maintain its position concerning Merion’s disability benefits termination.
Merion and Her Disability Attorney ask the Court for Relief
In their complaint, Merion and her Georgia disability attorney ask the District Court to:
- Order UNUM to pay Merion any retroactive disability benefits owed to date;
- Order UNUM to reinstate Merion as a beneficiary of disability benefit payments and continue paying her the monthly disability benefits she is entitled to onward;
- Award Merion reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs for having to resort to filing a complaint in the first place;
- Order UNUM to pay Merion interest on all monies UNUM owes her;
- Order UNUM to pay bad faith damages per O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6;
- Deny UNUM any “offset for income received by [Merion] for “other deductible sources'”;
- Allow Merion’s claim to be heard before a jury; and
- Provide Merion any relief the Court sees fit as appropriate “under the circumstances.”