Disability Insurance Attorneys Gregory Michael Dell and Rachel Alters of Dell & Schaefer have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston “Liberty Mutual” for failure to pay long-term disability benefits owed to a disability claimant in violation of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
The Plaintiff suffers from Fibromyalgia Syndrome which causes her unrelenting pain in her arms, legs, wrists, neck, shoulders and feet. Additionally, she suffers from severe fatigue and cognitive impairment as a result of her Fibromyalgia Syndrome. All of which prevents her from being able to perform the material and substantial duties of her occupation as a Benefits Coordinator, for Bridgestone Americas, Inc., an occupation that requires her to sit at a desk and type on a computer 6-8 hours a day.
The Plaintiff’s treating physicians all concur that she is disabled and unable to work due to severe pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment. She underwent a functional capacity examination which revealed that she was only able to sit or stand for a maximum of 2-4 hours in an 8 hour day. Her pain was so severe on the first day of testing she was unable to complete the exam. A neuropsychological examination revealed that she was impaired in her high order thinking which was likely due to her fibromyalgia syndrome.
Liberty failed to provide a “full and fair review” of the Plaintiff’s claim in violation of ERISA. Liberty ignored her treating physicians’ opinions, with whom she has treated with for over 15 years, who opined that she was clearly disabled and unable to work. Liberty disregarded the neuropsychological test results as well as the functional capacity exam results. Instead Liberty determined that the Plaintiff was not disabled, could work 40 hours a week in her regular occupation and should not limit her activity when she is in severe pain, but should be as active as possible in order to prevent her joints from stiffening. According to Liberty and the physician they paid to review our client’s medical records, working 40 hours a week would actually be beneficial to her condition. Liberty provided these opinions without ever examining the Plaintiff. They based their denial solely on a paper review of her medical records ignoring the medical opinions given by her treating physicians that she should not and could not work.
In our opinion, Liberty has really bent over backwards to wrongfully deny this claim. It is shocking that Liberty has relied on the opinion of a doctor that says 40 hours of work each week will make our client recover from her 15 years of suffering from fibromyalgia.