Sherrell v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada

DeBofsky Law recently won a disability insurance case filed on behalf of a University of Chicago employee. In Sherrell v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 20 C 7519, 2022 WL 474206 (February 16, 2022), Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that Sun Life improperly denied Mary Sherrell’s disability benefit claim and that Sherrell had met her burden of proving her entitlement to benefits.

Sherrell had worked as a cancer research coordinator for the University for many years until February 2020, when she had to stop working on account of worsening anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia.  Although Sun Life argued that Sherrell had been notified that her employment was being terminated prior to submission of the disability benefit claim, the court pointed out that Sherrell stopped working to begin a course of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), and pronounced, “It is extraordinarily improbable that Sherrell’s physicians prescribed this kind of treatment and that Sherrell followed through with it solely for the purposes of bolstering her disability claim.”  The court rejected the findings made by Sun Life’s medical consultant who never examined Sherrell; and the court was persuaded not only by the treating doctors’ opinions, but also by the opinion of a psychologist retained by the Social Security Administration that supported Sherrell’s disability.

The Sherrell ruling was a complete vindication for Mary Sherrell and made a number of findings that will undoubtedly be beneficial to plaintiffs in future litigation.

The full Memorandum Opinion and Order can be viewed here.