G&H Attorneys Don Peterson & Sean McGivern Win ERISA Disability Case 2017
–Tenth Circuit overturns abusive claim decision by Mutual of Omaha–
On October 17, 2017, we won our client’s appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Owings v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co. The Court overturned the insurance company’s wrongful calculation of our client’s monthly long-term disability benefit. Mr. Owings, the prevailing party, is represented by Don Peterson and Sean McGivern of Graybill & Hazlewood.
Mr. Owings was employed as a maintenance director for a Wichita-based optometry chain. He suffered a disabling back injury on July 1, 2013. Later that day, the employer slashed Mr. Owings’ salary by almost $30,000.00 per year. That is the last time Mr. Owings was on his employer’s premises. Fortunately, Mr. Owings had long term disability insurance. Unfortunately, Mutual of Omaha calculated Mr. Owings benefits based upon his reduced salary from the day of his injury, even though the policy stated that benefits would be based on the rate of pay from the day before disability.
In the Tenth Circuit’s view, the insurance company’s position was not only wrong, it was arbitrary and capricious. Mutual of Omaha was therefore ordered to reinstate Mr. Owings’ benefits at the correct amount. We intend to pursue attorney’s fees, costs, and prejudgment interest for Mr. Owings as well.
This case illustrates the lengths to which insurance companies sometimes go to avoid responsibility. Mutual of Omaha deliberately misread its own insurance policy to save money and argued that ERISA blesses its behavior. We are proud to help hard-working people like Mr. Owings stand up to insurance companies who refuse to honor their policy obligations.
If you have questions about long-term disability insurance or ERISA claims, please contact attorneys Sean McGivern, Don Peterson, or Nathan Elliott at Graybill & Hazlewood, LLC.