Baker Donelson’s Legal Secretary Wins Disability Benefits Lawsuit

A longtime legal secretary for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has won her lawsuit seeking disability benefits from Unum Life Insurance Co. for injuries she sustained in a car crash in 2014, according to a Mississippi federal court opinion.

Unum mismanaged Susan Greer’s claim for benefits by analyzing whether she was able to work in a sedentary manner, and not whether she could perform her specific duties as legal secretary, US District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves held Thursday. of the Southern District of Mississippi. Greer’s job demanded “more than just physical demands,” he said. It also required “organizational, communication, social and written skills,” he said.

“Plan’s language here unambiguously demands that Unum assess whether Greer could perform the duties of a legal secretary, and not just any job requiring comparable physical exertion,” Reeves said. “The record, Unum’s arguments, as well as Unum’s reliance on these cases demonstrate that Unum did assess Greer’s claim using the wrong criteria. “

Greer had worked for Baker Donelson for almost 30 years when she was hit head-on by an 18-wheeled logging truck on her way to work in May 2014. She suffered several fractures, a hernia, multiple bruises and head injury in the collision. Unum paid her disability benefits until October 2016, when it determined she was able to return to work.

Reeves granted summary judgment to Greer in his lawsuit under the Employees’ Retirement Income Security Act, claiming Unum used the wrong standard to assess his case and did not sufficiently consider opinions of her attending physicians, who remained “adamant” that she could not return to work due to her injuries.

Reeves also said he would award attorney fees to Greer and gave him three weeks to file a fee petition.

Morgan & Morgan PA represents Greer. Wells, Marble, & Hurst PLLC represents Unum.

The case is Greer v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., 2021 BL 373895, SD Miss., # 3: 17-cv-00615, 09/30/21.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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