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Illinois Court Finds Unum’s Denial of Nurse Manager’s Long-Term Disability Claim Was Wrong and Unreasonable

The Northern District of Illinois determined that Unum's denial of a nurse manager's long-term disability claim was both incorrect and unreasonable. So, the court ruled against Unum and ordered payment of unpaid long-term disability benefits.

Ms. Debra Warner’s Disability Claim

Before her disability, Ms. Warner was employed by Tyson Foods as a nurse manager. She stopped working in January 2011 due to the combined effects of fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, chronic low back pain, and other medical conditions. Unable to work, Ms. Warner filed a claim for long-term disability benefits with Unum.

Unum denied Ms. Warner’s claim for benefits – prompting her to file an appeal against Unum. With her appeal, Ms. Warner submitted additional medical evidence supporting disability, including a functional capacity evaluation (“FCE”) and support letters from her treating providers.

Unum denied Ms. Warner’s appeal relying heavily on a medical records review completed by a consulting physician. Following the denial of her appeal, Ms. Warner filed a lawsuit against Unum.

The Court’s Decision

The court ruled for Ms. Warner finding Unum unreasonably ignored evidence of disability. Specifically, the court found that Unum “improperly disregarded the FCE that Warner submitted.”

Indeed, the court recognized that Unum did not dispute Ms. Warner’s medical conditions. Instead, the only question was whether the conditions prevented her from working as a nurse manager.

The court acknowledged the importance of the Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) as key evidence. The comprehensive tests clearly demonstrated that Ms. Warner couldn't perform her job.

However, the court found fault with Unum for not addressing the FCE report and dismissing its findings without providing a reason. Additionally, the court argued that Unum had a duty to explain why the FCE didn't support a disability, which it failed to do. Notably, the court stated:

“Unum did not question the FCE methodology, the qualifications of the physical therapist administering the testing, or any aspect of the examination. Nor did Unum assert, much less establish a basis to infer, that Warner was malingering or otherwise attempting to manipulate the results of the FCE.”

Because of this, the court concluded Ms. Warner must win the lawsuit because Unum was unreasonable in denying her claim without addressing the evidence of disability.

Disability Insurance Companies Have Lawyers. Shouldn’t You?

Because this law firm was created to focus on disability insurance, we have developed an expertise in this complex area of the law.

Our expertise in long-term disability claims means our clients have the backing of a law firm that has attorneys who:

  1. are experts in disability claims;
  2. fought all major disability insurance companies and know their tactics;
  3. a track record of success;
  4. won major disability lawsuits that created good law; and
  5. recovered millions of dollars in disability benefits.

All our lawyers commit every day of their legal career to helping people get disability benefits from UNUM, MetLife, Prudential, Northwestern Mutual, Hartford, CIGNA, and others.

Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, we do not have to be located in your state to help. We represent clients nationwide.

Call to get experienced disability lawyers on your side with:

  • Submitting a disability insurance claim;
  • Appealing a long-term disability denial;
  • Negotiating a lump-sum settlement; and/or
  • Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.

Call (800) 969-0488 to request your free consultation with an experienced disability attorney. Pay no fees or costs unless you get paid.