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CIGNA/LINA sued by Lockheed Martin employee for unpaid disability benefits

A lawsuit was filed August 1, 2011 in the Federal Court of New Jersey against CIGNA by a hardware analyst and her New Jersey disability attorney in an effort to procure the employee’s disability benefits. After suffering from melanoma of the uterus and courageous attempts to continue working, the claimant was unable to and filed for long term disability benefits. When CIGNA denied those benefits, the claimant was forced to hire an attorney and sue.

A vested member in her employer, Lockheed Martin Corporation, having been employed by the company since October 13, 2003, the claimant was a dedicated employee, who after a complicated delivery of her second child in 2006, was diagnosed “with melanoma of the uterus and attempted to continue working while undergoing chemotherapy from May 23, 2007 until September 7, 2007.” A Lockheed Computer Systems Hardware Analyst, Luff’s position required her to make sure air traffic control systems at Lockheed were updated for oceanic routes, both Atlantic and Pacific.

Claimant Was Rushed to A Hospital After Experiencing an Inability to Walk Episode

The Claimant was rushed to Kennedy Washington Township Hospital on April 30, 2008 when she complained of two (2) weeks of numbness, tingling and associated weakness in her legs, and joint pain in her wrists, ankles and knees for approximately two (2) months.” When transported to the hospital, The Claimant was suffering from the inability to walk, blurred vision, and joint pain. Diagnosed with mild sensory neuropathy in both extremities in addition to the after effects of chemotherapy and depression, The Claimant was prescribed medication for pain and depression and referred to a rehabilitation center to learn how to walk again. The Claimant was discharged from the rehabilitation center after 18 days and “could walk only 25 feet with supervision and the aid of a rolling walker at the time.” Unable to go up and down stairs as well, The Claimant was sent home with a wheelchair and other accommodations to help her function. With little improvement and numerous doctor visits, The Claimant was proclaimed unable to work by her treating physician on October 9, 2008 and took leave from Lockheed per the Family Medical Leave Act. Her leave lasted until July 31, 2008, at which time; it was suspected that Multiple Sclerosis might be the culprit to Luff’s condition. Prescribed Kadian, The Claimant ultimately became bed-ridden, sleeping eighteen hours a day, experienced hallucinations and was unable to control her angry outbursts.

The Claimant’s Condition Persists

Baffled by The Claimant’s condition, her neurologist tried a number of anti-depressants and pain medications to combat Luff’s pain and mood to little avail. After a fainting incident in her home, The Claimant again was taken to the emergency room, after which time she “remained home unable to work, dependent on a wheelchair . . .” which condition continues through today. The Claimant was treated, tested, made several more trips to the emergency room, spend enumerable days in the hospital, and yet her condition has not improved. She is clinically depressed, in pain, non-ambulatory and unable to work.

CIGNA Approved Luff’s Short Term Disability Benefits for a Time

The Claimant was approved for short term disability benefits by CIGNA from August 1, 2008 until October 31, 2008, the conclusion of her short term disability qualification. Unable to return to work, The Claimant was terminated by Lockheed on September 4, 2008, and she applied for her long term disability benefits with CIGNA, but was denied her claim because, according to CIGNA, “the medical records do not support a severe disabling condition, which would prevent you from performing your occupation as a Systems Engineer.”

The Claimant and Her Lawyer File a Lawsuit against CIGNA

Needless to say, The Claimant filed an appeal to CIGNA’s determination, which was rejected; and then she filed another appeal, again denied, bringing the filing of the subject lawsuit against CIGNA by The Claimant and her disability attorney to plead with the Court to award her retroactive, ongoing and future long term disability benefits per the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act (ERISA) § 501(g)(1) and to award The Claimant pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees, cost of suit and any other relief deemed “equitable and appropriate,” per 29 U.S.C. § 1133(g).