Hilton v. Liberty Life

Joan Hilton was a legal secretary, until she shattered the weight bearing bone in her left leg during a fall. Joan had surgery to repair the fracture, but it never stopped hurting and Joan was never able to put any weight on it.

She applied for disability insurance, and Liberty Life paid for a couple of months. Then Joan’s surgeon, Dr. Bales said that he believed that the fracture had sufficient time to heal. Liberty denied further benefits for Joan, in spite of the fact that she was living on painkillers and her leg still wouldn’t bear any weight.

Eventually, a new physician sent Joan for a CT scan, which showed that the surgery to repair the fracture had failed, and the bone fragments in Joan’s tibia had failed to knit. Ms. Hilton’s leg had never become weight bearing, and she never regained the use of that leg. Dr. Bales looked at this new data, and reversed his earlier opinion that Joan’s leg had healed.

Liberty Life still didn’t want to pay Joan any benefits. It continued to rely on Dr. Bales’ old opinion, even after he wrote them stating, based on the CT scan, that the old opinion was wrong. Liberty Life also reclassified Joan’s job as sedentary, in spite of the fact that two of her employers wrote letters saying that it wasn’t.

As you can see from the transcript, Judge Rafeedie strongly disapproved of Liberty's Life's conduct, and ordered it to pay benefits.


© 2015 The Law Offices of Russell G. Petti