The U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington held that two defendants – Paul Revere Life Insurance Company and Unum Life Insurance Company – were both wrong in denying long-term disability benefits for a claimant suffering from fibromyalgia. The court found that the claimant, Mr. Mullaney, had met his burden of proving his disability and, therefore, should be paid benefits from both policies – the individual Paul Revere policy and the group Unum policy.
Our firm has handled a significant number of cases for clients with fibromyalgia. Cases based on fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and/or chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult due to the subjective nature of pain and fatigue. But, as this case shows, courts are beginning to see through insurance company’s denials of these claims. We can help you find the evidence you need to have a chance against the insurance companies.
The Court’s Understanding of Fibromyalgia
The court in Mullaney v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 2018 WL 3328402 (W.D. Wash. July 6, 2018), had a good understanding of fibromyalgia, which helped Mr. Mullaney win his case.
The court expressed understanding of:
- The Inconsistent Nature of Fibromyalgia Symptoms
For example, when Paul Revere and Unum argued that Mr. Mullaney’s symptoms have not always been consistent and he has not always met the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, the court deemed the argument “unpersuasive.”
The court observed that “this is consistent with the nature of fibromyalgia; the symptoms can be worse at some times more than others.”
- The Necessity of an In-Person Examination
The court noted that none of the five doctors UNUM or Paul Revere used ever examined Mr. Mullaney, which made their opinions less persuasive to the court. The court made clear its job was to evaluate the reasonableness of each opinion and make an informed decision on which doctor’s opinion was to receive the most weight.
- Cognitive Fatigue is a Symptom of Fibromyalgia
Finally, the court understood that one of the key symptoms of fibromyalgia is cognitive fatigue. At the same time, the court recognized that cognitive stamina was key to Mr. Mullaney’s occupation as an attorney. Mr. Mullaney needed to be able to work long hours on complex legal issues. If his condition caused fatigue and cognitive decline after a couple of hours, there is no way he could continue working as an attorney.
The court rejected any medical opinion that failed to take into account the effects of cognitive fatigue on Mr. Mullaney’s ability to complete his occupation as an attorney.
Our Disability Attorneys Can Help You
Ultimately, the court in this case correctly awarded benefits because it understood the nature of fibromyalgia and its symptoms. Because our firm has represented so many clients with fibromyalgia, we are comfortable educating courts about the condition and the symptoms.
Disability insurance law is complex. Hiring an experienced disability attorney is important. Because all disability lawyers at this law firm focuses on disability insurance claims, the firm has significant experience with every major disability insurance company.
The firm can help at any stage of your disability insurance claim, including:
- Submitting a disability insurance claim;
- Appealing a long-term disability denial;
- Negotiating a lump-sum settlement; or
- Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.
Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, our lawyers are able to represent clients across the country.
Call to speak with an experienced disability attorney. Consultations are always free.