Our client was in a serious auto accident at the age of 22, which confined him to a wheelchair due to serious back injuries. Despite his serious disability, he returned to school to learn computer programming. He successfully returned to the workforce and became a program manager for Oracle Corp. Due to a combination of his serious back injuries and the wear and tear after 17 years of working as a computer programmer and manager, his back finally gave out, precluding him from working full time. He applied for and received long term disability benefits.
Four years later, on December 23rd, the insurance carrier placed our client under video surveillance. The video showed him Christmas shopping with his wife for several hours. Client was driving with his specially equipped vehicle, getting in and out of his car into his wheelchair and going to various stores. Based on the video and client’s refusal to take constant pain medication, his benefits were terminated. Stennett & Casino had our client tested through a Functional Capacity Evaluation and had his doctor prepare additional reports; however, the insurance company refused to pay additional benefits. We filed a lawsuit in Federal Court and the court found in our client’s favor. In referencing the surveillance video the court noted that “the plan does not require a claimant to be utterly helpless in order to be eligible for disability benefits…and plaintiff would hardly be the only person overtaxing his abilities when shopping on December 23rd.” The court’s opinion can be found at Robertson v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co.