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Employees of Wells Fargo, Heinz, and Otis Elevator sue Liberty Life for denial of ERISA benefits

Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty) was sued by three Plaintiffs in District Courts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California for failure to provide disability benefits as promised by ERISA. In all three cases that were filed via the Plaintiffs’ respective attorneys, Liberty is accused of wrongfully denying the claims of all three Plaintiffs for long-term disability benefits as promised under their respective plans.

The First Case – Pennsylvania

In Paul P. Vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston and Wells Fargo and Company (Wells Fargo), Plaintiff was employed by Wells Fargo, and as a result, was covered by the Wells Fargo and Company Long-Term Disability Insurance Plan. This plan was funded and administered by Liberty.

On March 5, 2010, Plaintiff had to terminate his employment due to becoming totally disabled from chronic diverticulitis, coronary artery disease, resection of the colon, and other ailments. Plaintiff received $2,708.00 per month from March 5, 2010 to the present date based on what Liberty perceived as a pre-existing condition. Since Plaintiff’s condition was not due to a pre-existing condition, Plaintiff should have received $7,661.00 per month.

Plaintiff has complied with all terms of the Plan, including providing Liberty with all necessary documentation to prove that his current condition was not a pre-existing condition, but the monthly rate continues to be $2,708.00 per month. Due to the lack of full benefits that the Plaintiff is entitled, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against Liberty.

The Second Case – Ohio

In Raymond A. Vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston and Group Benefits Program For Non-Bargaining Employees For H.J. Heinz Company (Heinz), Plaintiff was employed by Heinz, thereby entitling him to benefits under the Program. The Program was administered by Liberty.

In October 2008, Plaintiff ceased employment due to chronic low back pain secondary to surgical intervention. Plaintiff has not been involved in substantial gainful activity since this time. Plaintiff made a claim for benefits under the Program, which entitled him to 180 days of short-term disability benefits as defined by the Program. Long-term disability benefits were scheduled to begin in March 2009 and were governed by Plaintiff’s ability to perform the material and substantial duties of his “own occupation.”

On January 11, 2011, Liberty sent a letter to the Plaintiff denying him of any future long-term disability benefits because of the “any occupation” clause in the Program. Plaintiff hired a lawyer in February 2011 and submitted an appeal letter in July 2011. This appeal letter included a sworn statement by Plaintiff’s physician, Dr. Kendall H., M.D., a Functional Capacity Evaluation, updated medical records, a video statement from the Plaintiff himself, a written statement from Plaintiff’s wife, and a vocational opinion report.

Despite all of the above, Liberty denied the Plaintiff long-term disability benefits on October 17, 2011. This denial was based on the opinion and of a “peer review” physician, who claimed there was no documentation to support Plaintiff’s claim for long-term disability benefits. Due to the Plaintiff exhausting his administrative remedies, he has filed this lawsuit against Liberty.

The Third Case – California

In Tina B. Vs. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, Plaintiff was employed by Otis Elevator as a Service Account Manager. Due to this employment, she was eligible for the benefits of Otis Elevator’s group long-term disability benefits plan, which were administered by Liberty. Plaintiff was initially approved for long-term disability benefits for the first 24 months after becoming disabled in July 2008 from a ganglion cyst, internal derangement of both knees, severe low back pain, and other ailments.

Liberty then denied her claim for future benefits due to a lack of medical information to support her claim of physical disability. Despite continuing reports that the Plaintiff is still disabled to where she cannot perform the material and substantial duties of her occupation, Plaintiff has not received long-term disability benefits beyond the first 24 months from Liberty. As a result, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against Liberty.

Relief Requested In The Lawsuits

The Plaintiffs from the three aforementioned cases request the following relief from Liberty in their lawsuits:

  • The benefits that have not been paid, along with accrued interest;
  • The future benefits to which the Plaintiffs are entitled to receive under the terms of their respective Plans;
  • All attorneys’ fees and court costs;
  • All other judgment that the Court declares fair and just.