A recent class action lawsuit against Unum Group was thrown out after the insurance company filed a dismissal motion on the basis that there was no evidence against it and that a Regulatory Settlement Agreement (RSA) made with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) made the plaintiff’s claims moot.
Unum’s clever legal maneuver has some people complaining that the company practically got a slap on the wrist (or wallet) for denying legitimate disability insurance claims and terminating others. The four plaintiffs (Theresa Keir, Michelle Washington, Karen Gately and Thomas Rocco) filed a lawsuit against Unum as well as its subsidiaries amid claims that their disability insurance claims were either outright denied or terminated. However, Unum’s lawyers fought back by bringing up the RSA, which the plaintiffs agreed to in 2004.
The RSA basically had Unum agreeing to change how management governs claims. It also forced Unum to reassess previously-denied claims and reopen those that were terminated. The company also agreed to start new procedures for claims processing that involved hiring properly-trained people to handle the policyholder’s benefits claims so that the claimant’s cases were investigated fairly. Unum also had to pay a fine of $15 million. In 2008, the DOL stated that Unum had met all of the agreement’s requirements.
The court apparently agreed with the insurance company, stating that Unum did initiate all of the changes in accordance to the RSA and were acting in compliance to ERISA laws. However, many are wondering if the plaintiffs might have gotten a better settlement if the RSA was never used. Did Unum take advantage of it to help take the steam out of the claims made against it? After all, the RSA took place in 2004. Does this mean that future legal claims made against Unum will allow the company to hide behind the RSA?
If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied or had your disability insurance benefits terminated by Unum or its subsidiaries, contact Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am an experienced disability insurance lawyer that will fight hard to get you the benefits that you are entitled to.