Federal Court rules that degenerative arthritis of claimant’s knee was a “sickness” and not caused by an “injury”

Lawrence Levy, M.D., insured under two disability policies with Minnesota Life Insurance Co., became disabled in March 1996 and has been receiving total disability benefits due to osteoarthritis in his right knee. Dr. Levy claims his disability is an “injury” rather than a “sickness” because the osteoarthritis is due to a basketball injury. The policy provides disability benefits to the age of 65 if the disability is caused by “sickness”, disability benefits will be paid for life is the disability is caused by an “injury”.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schnekier said the best interpretation of the policy is the term “immediate cause”. Under the immediate cause standard, Dr. Levy’s disability is due to sickness. The Judge stated the knee pain is due to degenerative arthritis and should characterize as a “sickness” under the long-term disability policy. Dr. Levy’s benefits will terminate at age 65.

See Lawrence B. Levy, M.D. v. Minnesota Life Insurance Co., No. 03-C-5141, N.D. Ill.; 2006 U.S. Dist..

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