A Texas-Sized Victory

ERISA Law Center

A Texas-Sized Victory

Kathleen Bernardo was employed at American Airline as Manager of Airport services. She was diagnosed with aplastic amenia (low blood cell counts) and treated with cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug. She applied for long term disability from the plan which was administered by MetLife. The plan paid benefits for about one year and a half and then terminated benefits. Ms. Bernardo filed two administrative appeals herself. The appeals were denied. At that point she hired the ERISA Law Center to represent her in litigation.

We filed suit in district court in Texas. The trial court ruled against Ms.Bernardo. We appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Fifth Circuit agreed with our argument that the conclusions of MetLife’s reviewing doctor did not reflect rational connections between the known facts about Ms. Bernardo’s condition and the decision to deny benefits. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit held that the record demonstrated that the Plan abused its discretion in terminating Ms. Bernardo’s long term disability benefits. The Fifth Circuit reversed the prior decision and remanded the case back to the district court with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Ms. Bernardo.