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A Tale of Two Unum Lawsuits

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While a Pennsylvania woman has gone public over her frustrations with Unum Group denied disability, another woman - an attorney with a large US law firm - is attempting to file her Unum lawsuit anonymously. Both assert bad faith insurance.

Gibsonia, PATucked in amongst a seemingly never-ending barrage of positivity stemming from the Unum camp with regard to investment, expansion and financial performance are the ever-lurking Unum insurance lawsuits alleging bad faith insurance and similar frustrations after an insurer that happily accepts monthly premiums suddenly does an about-face and pulls that plug when it comes time to pay up.

And to be fair, that's not just a reputation that continues to plague Unum. The entire insurance industry, overall, tends to assume a claim is not legitimate and either extends, then abruptly terminates benefits - or stonewalls policyholders during the claims process to the nth degree, hoping perhaps they'll just give up and go away…

Against this backdrop comes news of a Gibsonia woman who has launched a Unum lawsuit following the abrupt termination of her long-term disability (LTD) benefits.

Plaintiff asserts unfair denial of long term disability benefits

Gibsonia is in the state of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff, identified by the Pennsylvania Record (02/13/18) as Kathy Obermeier, asserts that she is a policyholder with Unum and covered by a life insurance policy and a policy that provides LTD benefits in the event of an unforeseen disability.

That apparently came to pass following a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, which led to a disability. Obermeier, in her Unum disability insurance lawsuit, asserts that she initially applied for, and received LTD benefits from Unum until her Unum insurance benefits were suddenly and unceremoniously terminated in June of last year.

The reason? According to her Unum insurance lawsuit, the termination of benefits was the result of Unum's interpretation and position that Obermeier indeed possessed the capacity to perform the material functions of her regular occupation.

Obermeier takes exception to that view, noting that her medical condition effectively precludes her from undertaking the functional duties of her occupation, which in turns leaves her unable able to work and thus effectively disabled. Obermeier wants to see her benefits reinstated, as well as court costs and legal fees. Her Unum disability lawsuit is Obermeier v. Unum Life Insurance Co. of America, Case No. 2:18-cv-00180-RCM, filed February 8 of this year in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Obermeier alleges the sudden termination of Unum disability benefits is a violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, as amended in 1974.

This plaintiff is trying to file her Unum lawsuit anonymously

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case a federal judge has ruled that an attorney with a law firm cannot file a Unum disability insurance lawsuit as a Jane Doe, in an attempt to secure benefits. The plaintiff, who at this juncture remains anonymous, feared that publishing her true identity would make it more difficult for her to secure future work in the legal profession had her particular disability become widely known.

The judge however disagreed.

"Plaintiff surmises that law firms are likely to reject her job application because of her medical condition. Plaintiff has no evidence that legal employers routinely search court docket sheets to obtain information about prospective hires. Plaintiff's fear of future harm is simply too speculative to be objectively reasonable."

The case is A.G. v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, Case No. 2018 BL 51417, D. Order No. 3:17-cv-01414-HZ (order denying request to proceed anonymously 2/14/18), in US District Court for the District of Oregon


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