The year in employee benefits

Employee benefits issues have occupied the courts recently and will continue to do so. Court decisions have reflected the most prevalent current economic issues, and also have addressed issues that will be decisive in the upcoming national election. For example, the debate over national health care has resulted in conflicting decisions relating to local initiatives […]

No reason to deny jury trials for ERISA claims

The plaintiff in today’s case had been in a serious bicycle accident and suffered cognitive impairments as a result. Gammell v. Prudential Ins.Co. of America, 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 36604 (D.Mass. May 17). On account of his injuries, Thomas Gammell received benefits through his employer’s group disability insurer, Prudential, from 1989 through 2002; however, benefits were terminated […]

Is expediency more important than accuracy?

The saga of this case, which involved a claim of disability due to complications of diabetes, is a long one that began in 2002 when Unum initially denied the claim for benefits and upheld its decision when the plaintiff submitted her pre-suit appeal. The case, Metzger v. Unum Life Ins.Co. of America, 2007 U.S.App.LEXIS 3755, […]

Insurer can’t keep manual from claimant

In a short, but highly instructive ruling, U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch ordered that CIGNA disclose its disability insurance claim manual without a protective order, overruling an objection that the insurer might suffer ”competitive injury” if such information was disclosed. Levy v. INA Life Insur.Co. of N.Y., 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 83060 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2006). Because […]

Remand didn’t help where Plan was at fault

The plaintiff, a loan originator, originally became disabled in 1993 due to an ankle injury. Although her ankle improved, she was also involved in a serious car accident, and her benefits were continued until 1996 when Hartford cut off the benefit payments even though she continued to suffer from pain, fatigue, problems with memory and […]