Judge William E. Duffin overturned Liberty Life’s decision to terminate Penny Aberg’s long-term disability insurance (LTDI) benefits. Aberg v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston et. al, No. 15-cv-571 (E.D. Wis., Aug. 23 2016). The Court found that the defendants, Charter Communications, Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan and Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston, violated ERISA by arbitrarily and unreasonably cutting off Ms. Aberg’s benefits.
Hawks Quindel submitted compelling evidence of Defendants’ arbitrary and capricious tactics to overcome the challenging standard of review, which advantaged Defendants. The Court particularly weighed the following evidence:
- Defendants hired a doctor to review Ms. Aberg’s medical record, but the doctor ignored the medical evidence showing that she was disabled.
- Defendants’ paid doctor failed to explain his basis for disagreeing with Ms. Aberg’s own doctors’ conclusions that she could not work.
- Defendants’ decision to terminate Ms. Aberg’s benefits conflicted with their previous decision to pay her benefits based on her medical evidence.
- Defendants had a conflict of interest insofar as Liberty had the discretion to determine when benefits are due and the obligation to pay those benefits.
The Court reinstated Ms. Aberg’s benefits retroactively through the Plan’s change in definition of disability and found that that Ms. Aberg was entitled to prejudgment interest and reasonable attorney’s fees.
This decision is Hawks Quindel’s third consecutive recent victory in ERISA LTDI cases. It provides further helpful case law to other claimants whose LTDI benefits are wrongfully denied. Attorneys William Parsons, Danielle Schroder, and Katelynn Williams represented the Plaintiff.