Liberty Mutual finds itself back in court having to prove to a judge the validity of their reasons for denying yet another long-term disability insurance benefit claim. This time it isn’t just one lawsuit filed by a disability attorney on behalf of one plaintiff. As a matter of fact, the same disability attorney filed three separate Federal lawsuits against Liberty Mutual on behalf of three individual plaintiffs living in different jurisdictions.
A disability attorney recently filed a civil complaint on behalf of three individual plaintiffs against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Mutual) due to Liberty Mutual denying long-term disability benefits to Cynthia Judd, Victoria Carraway, and Sherry Watson. All three cases were filed in United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, but in different divisions – the Greenwood Division for Ms. Watson; the Greenville Division for Ms. Judd; the Florence Division for Ms. Carraway.
In what seems to be a recurring theme, the disability attorney representing Carraway, Judd, and Watson alleges that a conflict of interest exists since Liberty Mutual acts as the fiduciary, insurer, and claim administrator for the long-term disability insurance policies held by each respective plaintiff. With that being the case, such a conflict makes it easy for Liberty Mutual to be in the position of denying a disability insurance claim.
The South Carolina disability lawyer for the three women also contends that Liberty Mutual failed to acknowledge, and thus ignored, evidence that was relative to each of the plaintiffs’ original claims for disability insurance benefits. The disability attorney from South Carolina continues by saying that the opinions rendered by Liberty Mutual were biased and flawed, and “not based upon substantial evidence or the result of a principled and reasoned decision-making process.” It is alleged that Liberty Mutual acted arbitrarily and capriciously when they rendered their decision to deny Carraway, Judd, and Watson their disability insurance benefits.
The South Carolina disability attorney for Carraway, Judd, and Watson asks the court to take in to consideration case law regarding an appeal made by Lisa Champion against Black & Decker Inc. before the Fourth Circuit of Appeals in 2008. Although Ms. Champion lost her appeal, the Fourth Circuit recognized there are certain factors that must be considered when it comes to paying benefit claims. Such recognition is based upon a Supreme Court ruling from 2008 (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Glenn) which clarified determining whether a conflict of interest exists within an insurance company. During litigation, an experienced disability attorney will conduct discovery in order to determine the extent of Liberty Mutual’s structural conflict of interest. Keep in mind that each case has its own unique characteristics and the outcome for each case could produce different results than the other two cases.
Carraway, Judd, and Watson are asking the court for judgment against Liberty Mutual in order to receive unnamed sums of money for disability insurance benefit payments, attorneys fees, and other relief the court deems fit. The disability attorney for the three ladies will establish the appropriate sums of money to which his clients are entitled
Of course, Liberty Mutual will do its best to demonstrate that they acted in good faith in each of the three cases when they denied disability insurance benefits to Carraway, Judd, and Watson.