Mckay v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company
The Sixth Circuit is also capable of decisions that leave the reader asking,
"How can that be?" In Mckay v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance
Company et al, 428 Fed. Appx. 537 (6th Cir. 2011) the claimant sought
long-term disability benefits from both Unum Provident and Reliance Standard, each of which
denied his claim since there were questions as to when Mckay was disabled.
Mckay, a lawyer, developed significant cervical spine problems and underwent
surgery, which did not resolve his problems. He attempted to return to
work but his pain worsened and his work was increasingly affected. He
was frequently absent from work and his medications made mental concentration
more difficult. He also came down with influenza. His last day in the
office was in December 2003, before he developed influenza; and in January
2004 he wanted to return to the office but could not because his back
pain and neck pain was so bad. He was terminated on January 19, 2004.
Long-term disability benefits were provided by Unum prior to January 2004
and by Reliance thereafter.
Mckay submitted claims to both insurance companies. While his claims were
pending he was awarded Social Security disability benefits. Both insurance
companies denied Mckay's long term disability benefit claims and Mckay
sued both. The District Court concluded that Mckay did not qualify for
benefits under the Unum policy and that Reliance acted improperly by denying
coverage because it failed to clarify which provision in its policy applied
to Mckay and therefore remanded the action to Reliance to make a determination.
Based on the remand Mckay applied for attorney fees from Reliance, which
the District Court granted. After Reliance reviewed the claim on remand
it again determined Mckay was not eligible for benefits and that decision
was upheld by the District Court. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed
all the decisions: no benefits from Unum or Reliance, even though the
Social Security Administration determined that Mckay was totally disabled,
but Mckay received attorney fees for at least part of his case.
This is a frequent theme of many circuit court decisions. What is given
with one opinion they may be taken away with another. Therefore, it's
very important to evaluate the jurisdiction of your claim in light of
the specific issues raised by your administrative record.
Representing ERISA Claimants in the Sixth Circuit
Our legal team at ERISA Law Center serves the Sixth Circuit by representing
claimants in the following states and cities: Kentucky: Louisville, Lexington,
Bowling Green, Owensboro and Covington; Michigan: Detroit, Grand Rapids,
Warren, Sterling Heights, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn, Livonia
and Clinton; Ohio: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton,
Parma, Canton, Youngstown and Lorain; and Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville,
Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Johnson City