Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Janet Bradley v. Liberty Life Assurance Company

August 11, 2011

JANET BRADLEY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY
OF BOSTON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldberg,J.

Memorandum Opinion

This case involves the construction of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) long-term disability policy. Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). For reasons stated herein, we will deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment while granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

I. Factual Background

The facts are taken from the record, and unless otherwise specified, are undisputed: In 2005, Plaintiff, Janet Bradley, took a job with Lowe's Companies, Inc. Defendant, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty), is the administrator of Lowe's group disability insurance policy. As a consequence of a "long history" of medical problems, Ms. Bradley became disabled while working for Lowe's, and began receiving benefits through the Liberty policy on February 8, 2007. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5, 10, 12.)

In addition to disability benefits provided under the Liberty policy, the Social Security Administration determined that Ms. Bradley was entitled to Social Security disability benefits as of September 2007. The Social Security Administration also determined that Ms. Bradley's son was entitled to receive dependent benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1) (2006), and in March 2009, her son received a check, directly from the Social Security Administration, for dependent benefits in the amount of $10,807.19. By the time he received the check, Ms. Bradley's son was no longer a minor or a dependent of Ms. Bradley. Thus, the payment was retroactive, covering the time during which he was a dependent. Ms. Bradley alleges that she received none of the benefits of the payment, an allegation that her counsel conveyed to Liberty on numerous occasions. (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 18-19, 21, 24, 29, 37.)

The Liberty Policy provides that any "Other Income Benefits" are to be deducted ("offset") from the amount of benefits paid by Liberty to the insured. Under the Policy, "Other Income Benefits" include:

The amount of Disability and/or Retirement Benefits under the United States Social Security Act . . . which:

a. the Covered Person receives or is eligible to receive; and

b. his spouse, child or children receives or are eligible to receive because of his Disability; or

c. his spouse, child or children receives or are eligible to receive because of his eligibility for Retirement Benefits. (Stip. Tab. A, at LL-0027.) (emphasis removed). The policy further states:

Liberty shall possess the authority, in its sole discretion, to construe the terms of this policy and to determine benefit eligibility hereunder. Liberty's decisions regarding the construction of the terms of this policy and benefit eligibility shall be conclusive and binding. (Stip. Tab A, at LL-0040.)

Based on the above policy language, Liberty determined that it was entitled to withhold Ms. Bradley's benefits in an amount equal to the payment made to her son by the Social Security Administration. The payment of $10,807.19 was "recovered in full" by Liberty in December of 2010.*fn1 (Compl. ¶¶ 21; Pl.'s Supp. Mem., Ex. 2.)

II. Legal Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, summary judgment is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.