Nurse wins opportunity for reassessment of claim with Liberty Life for long-term disability benefits based on her fibromyalgia

Robin Doyle was a registered nurse working for ChoicePoint Services, and filed a claim for short-term disability benefits on January 30, 2004. She based her disability on a number of conditions, including anal fissure, enlarged internal hemorrhoids, and external anal skin tags. She underwent surgery on February 10, 2004, in an effort to solve these health problems.

Liberty Life granted the maximum term of short-term disability benefits, which ran through May 9, 2004. Liberty Life then undertook to assess whether Ms. Doyle would qualify for long-term disability benefits after the expiration of the short-term disability benefit period. Based on a review of her records by an independent physician hired by Liberty Life, the insurance company denied Ms. Doyle her long-term disability benefits.

After her claim was denied, Ms. Doyle treated with a rheumatologist who diagnosed her with fibromyalgia. Armed with this new diagnosis, Ms. Doyle appealed the denial of her claim. Liberty Life denied the claim for long-term disability benefits, and Ms. Doyle filed suit.

The trial court found in favor of Liberty Life, and upheld the decision to deny disability benefits to Ms. Doyle, who appealed the decision of the trial court. The appellate court reversed the trial court, stating that the trial court had erred in not requiring Liberty Life to show that there was no conflict of interest for the carrier in both making the decision to deny disability benefits and being responsibility for paying disability benefits if it found that Ms. Doyle was disabled.

Ultimately, the appellate court sent the case back to the trial court to re-review the evidence in light of the conflict of interest. Ms. Doyle will therefore have another opportunity to have the trial court review her case and claim for long-term disability benefits.

See Doyle v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston, 511 F.3d 1336 (11th Cir. 2008).

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Dear Mr. Dell,
I was given your name as a referral for representation for the counsel and filing of a disability claim on my behalf. I understood that this would be a challenging effort and that it would be time consuming, frustrating and nearly impossible to do on my own. Our initial meeting was so reassuring that I hired you on the spot. The navigation of my office sale, the negotiations, the process of dealing with my illness and its symptoms and the entire ordeal seemed overwhelming at times. You and your staff were and remain amazing. Your conscientious and genuine concern were so reinforcing, your timely and efficient follow through was consistent with the service you promised and often exceeded my expectations.

I suppose I should add that my disability insurance carrier must have been equally impressed by your individual and team efforts as I was granted a full approval for my claim. There was no way that I could have achieved this without your excellent, ethical and efficient representation. I would also like to add that your assistant was a godsend. A sympathetic and caring soul, her attention to every detail and her patient attention to my needs during the process added greater confidence and support for my efforts.

Mr. Dell thank you again for making this process easier to navigate for me. Please feel free to give my contact information to anyone considering your services as I would be happy to serve as a permanent source of endorsement for you, your staff and your excellent performance on my behalf. Thanks again, you are a life saver!

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