U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania Rules that Prudential Abused its Discretion by Terminating Long Term Disability Benefits
On March 23, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that Prudential’s termination of long term disability benefits under the plaintiff’s employer-sponsored plan was an abuse of its discretion. Among the bases for the holding, the Court was concerned because Prudential abruptly reversed its earlier decision to approve long term disability benefits. Prudential terminated the Plaintiff’s long term disability benefits just four months after approving them.
The court was critical of the conclusions of Prudential’s reviewing doctors who failed to consider the actual duties of the Plaintiff’s regular occupation. They failed to consider relevant radiological films and EMG studies and they did not credit the treating providers’ clinical observations.
The court also criticized Prudential’s disregarding of the findings of the Social Security Administration, which found the Plaintiff eligible for Social Security Disability Income benefits under a more stringent standard. In addition to awarding the Plaintiff long term disability benefits he would have been entitled to if his benefits had not been terminated, the Court directed Plaintiff to submit a petition detailing interest, attorneys’ fees and costs to which he may be entitled.