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Unum Lawsuit Results in Attorneys’ Fees to Plaintiff

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Los Angeles, CAAn Unum lawsuit has resulted in the court awarding attorneys’ fees to the plaintiff. The lawsuit, which originally alleged an unfairly denied Unum insurance claim by Unum life insurance, was found in favor of the plaintiff.

According to Courthouse News Service (4/2/13), the plaintiff, Tanya Mondolo, was awarded $119,000 in attorneys’ fees following her denied disability lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and was found in favor of Mondolo in January 2013. Courthouse News Service notes the court found Unum acted “irrationally and illogically” in denying the plaintiff her benefits, making the company’s conduct “culpable.”

Mondolo reportedly asked for $135,000, while Unum said it should pay $50,000 arguing Mondolo’s request was based on an inflated rate. The judge considered numerous factors including how culpable the defendant was in its behavior, whether the attorneys’ fees would act as a deterrent and the merits of the two sides. Ultimately, the judge lowered the attorneys’ fees but still awarded more than double what Unum argued it should pay in the case.

Mondolo suffers fibromyalgia and avascular necrosis (also known as bone death), attributed by her doctors to chemotherapy for leukemia. In addition to uncontrolled pain, Mondolo has difficulty walking and cannot sit for long periods. The court found that Unum did not properly investigate Mondolo’s claim, did not investigate the appropriateness of alternative jobs and did not consider psychological evidence. Unum was ordered to reinstate Mondolo’s benefits with interest. At the time, the court reportedly found Mondolo’s attorneys could make a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs.

Claims against life insurance companies such as Unum tend to allege the company practices bad faith insurance by denying legitimate insurance claims on dubious grounds. Sometimes, the denial involves rejecting or ignoring recommendations of the policyholder’s physician. In other cases, the insurance company claims the plaintiff is capable of working, without considering the specific duties involved in the job or the limitations caused by the policyholder’s injury.

The Mondolo lawsuit is Mondolo v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Amer., CV-11-07435 CAS (MRWx) (C.D. Cal. 2013).

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