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Northern Virginia, Virginia

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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
Attorney • (703) 584-7277

JURY DENIED FOR WOMAN SUING FOR LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS

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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a major fraud on the American employee. Through statute and interpretation by the Supreme Court of the United States insurance companies have been clothed in an almost ironclad protection of their decisions regarding insurance benefits for employees.

In this case filed in the federal court in Norfolk, the plaintiff is suing for a determination that the insurance company owes her $500,000.00 in life insurance benefits. The court ruled however that because the life insurance policy is a benefit provided by the employer (even though the employee actually had paid the premiums) the claim falls under ERISA and the plaintiff is not entitled to a jury.

Under ERISA it is important to note that the insurance company’s decision denying benefits will also be upheld unless the plaintiff can prove that the insurance company abused its discretion. Had the exact same policy been bought on the open market (and not through the employer) then the insurance company would be facing a jury and would be liable to the plaintiff if the jury believed that the plaintiff had proven her case by the greater weight of the evidence.

Our experience is that employee insurance benefits in the life and disability field are made almost worthless by ERISA. If at all possible, employees should look to the private market for life insurance and disability insurance benefits.