Attorneys Mark DeBofsky and Bridget O'Ryan secured a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals on May 18, 2017 in a disability benefit case involving fibromyalgia - Kennedy v. Lilly Extended Disability Plan, 2017 WL 2178091 (7th Cir. May 18, 2017)(available at Final Opinion). The court began its ruling by announcing that this case is about fibromyalgia, and then proceeds to explain the nature of the condition, its chronicity, and the severity of the pain it causes. Cathleen Kennedy was a senior human resources executive at Eli Lilly & Company, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, before she became disabled due to fibromyalgia. Lilly is very familiar with fibromyalgia since it markets Cymbalta to treat the disease. Lilly has also retained Dr. Daniel Clauw, a professor of rheumatology at the University of Michigan, as a consultant on fibromyalgia. Dr. Clauw has publicly stated that many persons who suffer from fibromyalgia "end up needing to stop working because of this condition" and has also remarked that fibromyalgia "is not only very common but is typically also very disabling."
Despite Lilly's initial approval of Kennedy's claim for disability benefits, which she submitted when she stopped working in 2008 after a 26-year career of steady advancement at the company, benefits were terminated after several years following a determination that she was no longer unable "to engage, for remuneration or profit, in any occupation commensurate with the Employee's education, training, and experience." The district court overturned that finding; and the court of appeals affirmed the lower court.