TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida federal judge on May 28 allowed a former National Football League player’s claim regarding overpayment of disability benefits to proceed after determining that the overpayment issue is separate and distinct from the issue of whether the plan abused its discretion in terminating the player’s benefits (Tyrone Keys v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, et al., No. 18-2098, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88486).
MINNEAPOLIS — A disability claimant is entitled to long-term disability (LTD) benefits under a plan’s any-occupation standard because the evidence clearly shows that the claimant is not capable of working in a sedentary position as a result of her disability, a Minnesota federal judge said May 28 (Melissa A. McIntyre v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 17-5134, D. Minn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88536).
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama federal judge on May 17 denied a motion to uphold confidentiality designationin a disability benefits dispute after determining that the insurers failed to prove how they would be harmed if a number of exhibits are disclosed (Horace R. Theriot Jr. v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. et al., No. 18-688, M.D. Ala., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87538).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas federal judge on May 24 denied a disability insurer’s motion to dismiss a breach of fiduciary duty claim arising out of the insurer’s administration of a plan participant’s benefits claim because dismissal of the breach of fiduciary allegation would be premature (Kelly Dean Brende v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., Nos. 15-9711, 19-2042, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87777).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 28 denied a disability claimant’s petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to review the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision that the disability claimant was not disabled from his own occupation as an anesthesiologist because the medical evidence supported the insurer’s finding that the claimant could perform the duties of his own occupation with appropriate accommodations (Timothy O’Neill D.O. v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 18-1305, U.S. Sup.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A disability claimant’s breach of contract and bad faith suit must be remanded to state court because the insurer failed to prove that the claimant is seeking more than $75,000 in damages, a California federal judge said May 23 (Sabrina Dakak v. Fidelity Security Life Insurance Co., No. 19-247, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87367).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 23 reversed and remanded a district court’s ruling in favor of a disability claimant after determining that the insurer’s denial of benefits was not an abuse of discretion because, according to Fifth Circuit precedent, the insurer properly considered the general duties of the claimant’s regular occupation and did not have to account for each of the claimant’s unique job duties (Juanita Nichols v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 18-60499, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15396).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 21 determined that a district court did not err in finding that a disability insurer properly calculated a claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits because the claimant’s benefits were calculated in accordance with the plan’s terms (Deborah A. Johnson v. General Electric Co. et al., No. 18-35581, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15019).
CHICAGO — A disability claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits must be based on the claimant’s full salary and not a reduced salary incorrectly implemented for two months by his employer because the terms of the claimant’s employment agreement provided that the claimant would receive a full salary beyond the date upon which the claimant became disabled, an Illinois federal judge said May 21 in granting the claimant’s motion for summary judgment (David Schewitz, M.D. v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 18-6119, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85157).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A disability claimant is entitled to long-term disability (LTD) benefits under his employer’s disability plan because the evidence supports a finding that the claimant was unable to perform the material duties of his regular occupation, an Alabama federal judge said May 20 in granting the claimant’s motion for summary judgment (Bobby Johns Wiley v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co., No. 16-1936, N.D. Ala., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84077).
ATLANTA — A disability claimant filed a notice of appeal to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 19, seeking review of a Florida federal court’s finding that a disability plan’s termination of long-term disability (LTD) benefits was reasonable based on the evidence considered by the plan administrator (Shenita Sapp v. AT&T Services Inc., et al., No. 19-11471, 11th Cir.).
LOS ANGELES — A disability claimant’s suit seeking benefits under an individual disability income policy and alleging claims for breach of contract and bad faith must be removed to California federal court because the amount in controversy exceeds the federal jurisdictional minimum of $75,000, the insurer maintains in a May 14 notice of removal (Julie Borba, M.D. v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 19-4172, C.D. Calif.).
BOSTON — A disability insurer did not abuse its discretion or act unreasonably in denying a claim for short-term disability benefits based on the claimant’s failure to file the claim within 30 days as required by the plan because the insurer’s denial based on the late notice was supported by substantial evidence, a Massachusetts federal judge said May 10 (Nancy Lyman v. UNUM Group, et al., No. 17-11530, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79516).
NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana federal judge on May 9 dismissed a plaintiff’s claim seeking long-term disability (LTD) benefits because the plaintiff failed to exhaust all administrative remedies on the LTD claim (Lea Zerangue v. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Co,, No. 19-1939, E.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78446).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A disability claimant’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits must be reinstated because the claimant is clearly disabled from performing the duties of her own occupation as an attorney, an Oregon federal magistrate judge said May 7 (Bethany Coleman-Fire v. Standard Insurance Co., No.18-180, D. Ore., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76726).
ST. LOUIS — A Missouri federal magistrate judge on May 7 upheld a disability plan’s decision to deny a claimant’s long-term disability benefits after determining that the plan’s decision was reasonable and supported by substantial evidence (Harry DaPron v. Spire Inc. Retirement Plans Committee, No. 17-2671, E.D. Mo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76828).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In a May 6 complaint filed in Rhode Island federal court, a disability claimant who was employed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as a casino dealer in Connecticut alleges that the Tribal Nation and its disability insurer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when they terminated her long-term disability (LTD) benefits (Nubia Mazzarese v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, et al., No. 19-260, D. R.I.).
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin federal magistrate judge on May 3 denied a disability claimant’s motion to exclude the plan’s insurance certificate and appointment of claim fiduciary form from the administrative record after determining that the claimant failed to provide any citation to statutory or case law that requires the exclusion of the documents from the administrative record based on the claim administrator’s failure to provide the documents to the claimant upon request (Joleen M. Lerch v. Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 18-589, W.D. Wis., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74946).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should deny a disability claimant’s petition for writ of certiorari because the questions presented by the claimant were not litigated in the lower courts and, therefore, are not suitable for the high court’s review, the insurer argues in a May 2 response brief (Timothy P. O’Leary v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., No. 18-1266, U.S. Sup.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal magistrate judge on May 1 recommended granting a disability claimant’s motion for attorney fees and costs after determining that the claimant achieved some success on the merits of his claim (Eric Dmuchowsky v. Sky Chefs Inc., No. 18-1559, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73752).