O’Ryan Law Firm, on behalf of our client, Jeremy C., recently filed a lawsuit against Liberty Life Mutual after they wrongfully terminated Jeremy’s disability benefits. Our client was employed as a Store Manager with Wal-Mart, which made him eligible for disability benefits offered through the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. employee benefit plan. Liberty Mutual is actually the insurance company for the long term disability coverage offered to Wal-Mart employees.
Jeremy worked for many years at Wal-Mart, the last several years as a Store Manager, until he was forced to stop working in March 2015, because of his medical conditions the worst of which was Sjogren’s Syndrome. Sjögren’s is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. The symptoms from this disease include profound fatigue, memory loss, recurrent sinusitis, difficulty with speech, reflux, esophagitis, muscle pain, upset stomach, irritable bowel, peripheral neuropathy and many more.
As a result of Sjogren’s Syndrome, our client suffered specifically from gait instability, memory loss, episodes of dysarthria and slurred speech, overall weakness/fatigue, numbness and tingling in the right arm and right leg, tremors after physical activity, abdominal pain, acute sinusitis, colon polyps, gastroesophogeal reflux disease with esophagitis, exhaustion, and continuous headaches. The multitude and severity of these symptoms made it impossible for our client to continue handling the responsibilities of a store manager at a large Wal-Mart store located in Lebanon, Indiana.
Our client’s primary care physician was very supportive of his disability claim. This physician sees our client, oftentimes, every 2 weeks because of the complexity of his symptoms. The physician reported to Liberty Mutual, on several occasions, that our client is disabled from performing any job due to his illness and told Liberty Mutual “no work indefinitely…has too many health conditions and risk concerns. He is not able to work anywhere.”
When Jeremy was forced to stop working, he applied for long term disability benefits offered through the Wal-Mart employee benefit plan. Initially, Liberty approved the claim for the period of January 19, 2015 to May 8, 2016. On May 4, 2016, Liberty abruptly terminated his only source of income giving him only 4 days notice of the termination of benefits. Liberty Mutual believed that he had miraculously recovered and could return to work
In support of its denial of LTD benefits, Liberty relied upon the opinion of a contracted physician who had never met or examined Jeremy. Yet, the doctor hired by Liberty Mutual reviewed Jeremy’s medical records and contended that the medical documentation submitted did not support any restrictions or limitations. They pretty much ignored the statements from Jeremy’s physician who has been treating him for several years. Despite the strong statements by Jeremy’s physician, the Liberty medical staff still insisted that Plaintiff was not disabled.
Liberty Mutual also conducted multiple days of surveillance, following Jeremy on 8 different occasions, with little or no significant activity observed. Jeremy was seen driving his daughter to school or picking up a prescription at Wal-Mart, certainly not enough activity to indicate that he could return to a job working 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. Liberty believed that the surveillance showed enough activity to prove that he could return to work and used the surveillance against our client as a reason to terminate the benefits.
After filing a lawsuit against Liberty Mutual, our magistrate judge immediately scheduled a settlement conference in the case with all parties attending. Liberty Mutual had their attorney and a representative attend the settlement conference. After several hours of negotiating, we were able to successfully resolve the case and the case has now been dismissed against Liberty Mutual. Jeremy and his family were grateful to have the case against Liberty Mutual settle and to go on with their lives.
If Liberty Mutual has denied your disability benefits, please contact the Indiana long-term disability lawyers of O’Ryan Law Firm immediately to discuss your rights.