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Arsdel v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 30, 2017

CRAIG VAN ARSDEL, Plaintiff,
v.
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF BOSTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          EDWARD G. SMITH, J.

         This action brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1191c stems from the defendant's alleged wrongful denial of the plaintiff's claim for long-term disability benefits. The plaintiff worked as a plant controller for a corrugated packaging industry and sought short-term disability benefits due, among other things, his morbid obesity, difficulty ambulating, and osteoarthritis in his right hip. Although the defendant initially denied the request for short-term disability benefits, it reversed its decision after concluding that the plaintiff's impairments prevented him from performing his own job.

         The plaintiff then sought long-term disability benefits. Under the disability policy the plaintiff needed to show that he could not perform the material and substantial duties of his own occupation. The disability policy provides that the defendant would consider the requirements of the plaintiff's occupation as the occupation is performed in the national economy.

         After reviewing the plaintiff's documentation, the defendant determined that the plaintiff's occupation was properly designated as a controller and it was performed as a sedentary or light duty occupation in the national economy. The defendant then determined that the plaintiff was capable of sedentary work and, as such, concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled and entitled to longer-term disability payments because he could perform the material and essential duties of a controller. The plaintiff contested the denial by filing the instant action, which was eventually removed from state court to this court.

         The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the propriety of the defendant's denial of benefits. They agree that the court should review the defendant's denial of benefits under the arbitrary and capricious standard of review. As explained below, the court finds that there are no genuine issues of fact that prevent the court from disposing of this case at the summary judgment stage. In addition, although the court recognizes the highly deferential standard applicable to this case, the record compels the court to conclude that the defendant abused its discretion in denying long-term disability benefits in this case. Accordingly, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, deny the defendant's motion for summary judgment, and remand the case to the defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The plaintiff, Craig Van Arsdel, filed a complaint against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (“Liberty Life”) in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on April 3, 2014. Notice of Removal (“Notice”), at Ex. 1, Compl., Doc. No. 1.[1] In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he developed severe arthritis in his right hip along with a multitude of other ailments while working as a plant controller for Pratt Industries. Compl. at ¶¶ 3, 8. By January 4, 2013, the plaintiff could not continue working at his job, and he applied for short-term disability (“STD”) benefits under a group disability insurance policy that he purchased from Liberty Life in 2011.[2] Id. at ¶¶ 4, 9. Although Liberty Life initially denied the claim, it provided him with STD benefits from February 1, 2013, until April 7, 2013, after he successfully appealed from the denial. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10. On March 28, 2013, the plaintiff applied for long-term disability (“LTD”) benefits. Id. at ¶ 11. Liberty Life denied the LTD benefits claim on or about May 2, 2013, and although the plaintiff appealed from the denial, Liberty Life affirmed its prior denial on August 23, 2013. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20.

         Based upon Liberty Life's denial of his claim for LTD benefits, the plaintiff asserted state-law causes of action for breach of contract and statutory bad faith in the original complaint. Id. at 8-9. On May 2, 2014, Liberty Life filed a notice of removal claiming that removal to federal court was proper because the plaintiff was actually asserting an ERISA claim. See Notice at ¶ 10 (referencing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441(b) and 29 U.S.C. § 1132). The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on June 11, 2014, in which he appears to have repeated the underlying factual allegations from the original complaint, but added an alternative cause of action under ERISA to the preexisting state-law causes of action. Amended Compl., Doc. No. 3.

         Liberty Life filed a motion to dismiss the state-law causes of action in the complaint on June 18, 2014. Doc. No. 5. In the motion, Liberty Life argued that the court should dismiss the state-law claims for breach of contract and statutory bad faith because ERISA preempted those claims. See Memorandum of Def. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Counts I and II of Pl.'s Am. Compl. at 2-6, Doc. No. 5. The plaintiff filed a response to the motion on June 26, 2014. Doc. No. 6. In the response, the plaintiff asserted that the court should deny the motion because the disability insurance plan at issue fell within the “safe harbor” provision, 29 C.F.R. § 2510.3-1(j), and was exempt from ERISA coverage. Memorandum of Law in Supp. of Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Counts I & II of the Am. Compl. at 6-7, Doc. No. 6.

         The court resolved the motion to dismiss via a memorandum opinion and order filed on September 5, 2014. Doc. Nos. 9, 10. In the memorandum opinion and order, the court (1) denied the motion to dismiss the state-law claims in counts I and II of the amended complaint because the parties' contentions raised issues of fact that the court could not resolve through a motion to dismiss, and (2) provided the parties with a period of time to conduct limited discovery on the potential applicability of the safe harbor provision and then file motions for summary judgment on this issue. Memorandum Op. at 4-6, Doc. No. 9; Order, Doc. No. 10. With respect to this discovery period, the parties sought and received two extensions of time to finish conducting discovery on the safe harbor issue. Doc. Nos. 11-14.

         On May 13, 2015, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the applicability of the safe harbor provision and the viability of the state-law claims in the amended complaint. Doc. Nos. 17-21. Liberty Life then filed an answer to the amended complaint with affirmative defenses on May 28, 2015. Doc. No. 22. On the same date, Liberty Life filed a response to the plaintiff's statement of facts in support of his motion for summary judgment and a brief in opposition to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.[3] Doc. Nos. 23, 24. The court heard oral argument on the cross-motions for summary judgment on July 8, 2015. On March 29, 2016, the court entered a memorandum opinion and order in which the court (1) granted Liberty Life's motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in its favor and against the plaintiff as to counts I (breach of contract) and II (statutory bad faith) of the amended complaint, and (2) denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.[4] Doc. Nos. 29, 30.

         On April 27, 2016, the parties filed a stipulation, attaching thereto the documents they agreed comprised the administrative record in this case. Doc. No. 32. Liberty Life filed a motion for summary judgment, statement of undisputed material facts, and supporting memorandum of law, with respect to the remaining ERISA cause of action, on April 28, 2016. Doc. Nos. 33-35. The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, statement of undisputed material facts, and supporting memorandum of law as to his ERISA claim on April 29, 2016. Doc. No. 36. After a couple of extensions, Liberty Life filed a response to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and statement of undisputed material facts on May 26, 2016. Doc. Nos. 42, 43. The plaintiff then filed a response in opposition to Liberty Life's motion for summary judgment on May 27, 2016. Doc. No. 44. The motions are ripe for disposition.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standards of Review

         1. Summary Judgment Standard

         A district court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Additionally, “[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Wright v. Corning, 679 F.3d 101, 103 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482 (3d Cir. 1995)). An issue of fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id.

         The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden “of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). Once the moving party has met this burden, the non-moving party must counter with “‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (stating that “[a] party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or . . . [by] showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute”). The non-movant must show more than the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence” for elements on which the non-movant bears the burden of production. Anderson, 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Bare assertions, conclusory allegations, or suspicions are insufficient to defeat summary judgment. See Fireman's Ins. Co. v. DuFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982) (indicating that a party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not “rely merely upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions”); Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. N.E. for M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d Cir. 1999) (explaining that “speculation and conclusory allegations” do not satisfy non-moving party's duty to “set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists and that a reasonable factfinder could rule in its favor”). Additionally, the non-moving party “cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial.” Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Moreover, arguments made in briefs “are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Township of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985).

         The court “may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations.” Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (citing Petruzzi's IGA Supermarkets., Inc. v. Darling-Del. Co. Inc., 998 F.2d 1224, 1230 (3d Cir. 1993)). Instead, “[w]hen considering whether there exist genuine issues of material fact, the court is required to examine the evidence of record in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, and resolve all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). The court must decide “not whether . . . the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial'” and the court should grant summary judgment in favor of the moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

         The summary judgment standard is the same even when, as here, the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Erbe v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co., No. CIV.A. 06-113, 2009 WL 605836, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2009) (citing Transguard Ins. Co. of Am., Inc. v. Hinchey, 464 F.Supp.2d 425, 430 (M.D. Pa. 2006)). “When confronted with cross-motions for summary judgment . . . ‘the court must rule on each party's motion on an individual and separate basis, determining, for each side, whether a judgment may be entered in accordance with the summary judgment standard.'” Id. (citing Transguard, 464 F.Supp.2d at 430).

         2. Standard of Review for Benefit Denials Under ERISA

         The plaintiff has brought this action under section 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA, which permits a participant or beneficiary of a covered policy to bring a civil action to recover the benefits due under the terms of the policy. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). Generally, the court must review the denial of benefits “under a de novo standard unless the benefit plan gives the administrator or fiduciary discretionary authority to determine eligibility for benefits or to construe the terms of the plan.” Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101, 115 (1989). “If the plan gives the administrator or fiduciary discretionary authority to make eligibility determinations, ” the court must review its decision “under an abuse-of-discretion (or arbitrary and capricious) standard.” Viera v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2 F.3d 407');">642 F.3d 407, 413 (3d Cir. 2011) (citations omitted).[5]

         Here, the parties agreed in their submissions that the court should apply the abuse of discretion (or arbitrary and capricious) standard of review in this case. See Memorandum of Law in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(a) (“Pl.'s Mem.”) at 3 (stating that “the parties agreed in their submissions that the Pratt plan gives the administrator the required discretion” to make eligibility determinations and, as such, the arbitrary and capricious standard applies), Doc. No. 36-1; Memorandum of Def. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. on Count III of Pl.'s Am. Compl. (“Def.'s Mem.”) at 15 (“The Deferential ‘Arbitrary and Capricious' Standard of Review is Applicable to this Dispute.” (emphasis omitted)), Doc. No. 34. Under this standard, “[a]n administrator's decision is arbitrary and capricious if it is without reason, unsupported by substantial evidence or erroneous as a matter of law.” Fleisher v. Standard Ins. Co., 679 F.3d 116, 121 (3d Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted). “A decision is supported by substantial evidence if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable person to agree with the decision.” Courson v. Bert Bell NFL Player Ret. Plan, 214 F.3d 136, 142 (3d Cir. 2000).

         The arbitrary and capricious standard of review “is narrow, and the court is not free to substitute its own judgment for that of the defendants in determining eligibility for plan benefits.” Abnathya v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., 2 F.3d 40, 45 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal quotation omitted). Although “the arbitrary and capricious standard is extremely deferential, [i]t is not ... without some teeth. Deferential review is not no review, and deference need not be abject.” Kuntz v. Aetna Inc., No. CIV. A. 10-877, 2013 WL 2147945, at *4 (E.D. Pa. May 17, 2013) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see Connelly v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., No. CIV. A. 13-5934, 2014 WL 2452217, at *4 (E.D. Pa. June 2, 2014) (“Although the arbitrary and capricious standard is highly deferential, the court must still consider the quality and quantity of the medical evidence and the opinions on both sides of the issues, so as to avoid rendering courts ‘nothing more than rubber stamps for any plan administrator's decision.'” (quoting Glenn v. MetLife, 461 F.3d 660, 674 (6th Cir. 2006), aff'd sub nom. Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Glenn, 554 U.S. 105 (2008)).

         In addition, [o]n a motion for summary judgment in an ERISA case where the plaintiff claims that benefits were improperly denied, a reviewing court is generally limited to the facts known to the plan administrator at the time the decision was made. Post v. Hartford Ins. Co., 501 F.3d 154, 168 (3d Cir. 2007), overruled on other grounds, Doroshow, 574 F.3d 230. “Consequently, when, as here, a plaintiff alleges that a plan administrator . . . abused its discretion in deciding to terminate benefits, [the Court] generally limit[s][its] review to the administrative record, that is, to the ‘evidence that was before the administrator when [it] made the decision being reviewed.'” Sivalingam v. Unum Provident Corp., 735 F.Supp.2d 189, 194 (E.D. Pa. 2010) (quoting Mitchell v. Eastman Kodak Co., 113 F.3d 433, 440 (3d Cir. 1997)); see also Johnson v. UMWA Health & Ret. Funds, 125 F. App'x 400, 405 (3d Cir. 2005) (“This Court has made clear that the record for arbitrary and capricious review of ERISA benefits denial is the record made before the Plan administrator, which cannot be supplemented during the litigation.”).

         Plank v. Devereux Found., No. CIV. A. 13-7337, 2015 WL 451096, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 2, 2015)

         (alterations in original).

         As an additional point, the plaintiff argues that there are “procedural” conflicts of interest insofar as there were several deficiencies in Liberty Life's decision-making process. See, e.g., Pl.'s Mem. at 4, 24-29. With regard to purported conflicts of interest, courts reviewing the decisions of ERISA plan administrators or fiduciaries in civil enforcement actions brought pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) should apply a deferential abuse of discretion standard of review across the board and consider any conflict of interest as one of several factors in considering whether the administrator or the fiduciary abused its discretion.

         Estate of Schwing v. The Lilly Health Plan, 562 F.3d 522, 525 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         As such, the court must “review various procedural factors underlying the administrator's decision, as well as structural concerns regarding how the particular ERISA plan was funded, to determine if the conclusion was arbitrary and capricious.” Miller v. American Airlines, Inc., 632 F.3d 837, 845 (3d Cir. 2011). In this regard, “‘the procedural inquiry focuses on how the administrator treated the particular claimant.'” Id. (quoting Post v. Hartford Ins. Co., 501 F.3d 154, 162 (3d Cir. 2007), abrogated on other grounds by Estate of Schwing, 562 F.3d 522 (3d Cir.

         2009)). When reviewing “the process that the administrator used in denying benefits, ” courts consider “numerous ‘irregularities' to determine ‘whether, in this claimant's case, the administrator has given the court reason to doubt its fiduciary neutrality.'” Id. (quoting Post, 501 F.3d at 165).[6] “Ultimately, [the court] ‘determine[s] lawfulness by taking account of several, often case-specific, factors, reaching a result by weighing all together.” Id. (quoting Metro Life Ins. Co. v. Glenn, 554 U.S. 105, 117 (2008)).

         B. The Applicable Record 1.The Disability Plan Liberty Life provided short- and long-term disability insurance to employees of Pratt Industries pursuant to a group disability income policy (the “Disability Policy”). Defendant's Statement of Material Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. (“Def.'s Facts”) at ¶ 1;[7]Administrative Record (“Admin. R.”) at 0001-0051, Doc. No. 32-1.[8] The Disability Policy covered the plaintiff because he was a plant controller with Pratt Industries. Amended Compl. at ¶¶ 3, 4; Defendant's Answer and Affirmative Defenses at ¶¶ 3, 4.

         With regard to the provision of short-term disability (“STD”) benefits, the Disability Policy states that “[w]hen Liberty [Life] receives Proof that a Covered Person is Disabled due to Injury or Sickness and requires the Regular Attendance of a Physician, Liberty [Life] will pay the Covered Person a Weekly Benefit after the end of the Elimination Period, subject to other provisions of this policy.”[9] Admin. R. at 0018. To provide further guidance on eligibility for STD benefits, a covered employee must refer to the definition section of the Disability Policy as it contains the definitions of numerous terms and phrases applicable to claims for STD benefits.

         In this regard, the Disability Policy defines the term “Disabled” to mean “as a result of Injury or Sickness the Covered Person is unable to perform the Material and Substantial Duties of his Own Job.” Plaintiff's Proposed Stipulation of Facts (“Pl.'s Facts”) at ¶ 2; Defendant's Resp. to Pl.'s Proposed Stipulation of Facts (“Def.'s Resp.”) at ¶ 2; Admin. R. at 0008. The Disability Policy defines the terms “Injury” and “Sickness” to mean:

         “Injury” means bodily impairment resulting directly from an accident and independently of all other causes. For the purpose of determining benefits under this policy:

         1. any Disability which begins more than 60 days after an Injury will be considered a Sickness; and 2. any Injury which occurs before the Covered Person is covered under this policy, but which accounts for a medical condition that arises while the Covered Person is covered under this policy will be treated as a Sickness.

         . . .

         “Sickness” means illness, disease, pregnancy or complications of pregnancy. Admin. R. at 0010, 0012. The Disability Policy also defines the phrase “Material and Substantial Duties” as “responsibilities that are normally required to perform the Covered Person's Own Job and cannot be reasonably eliminated or modified.” Id. at 0010. Finally, the Disability Policy defines the phrase “Own Job” as “the Covered Person's job that he was performing when his Disability or Partial Disability began.” Id.; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 3; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 2.

         As for long-term disability (“LTD”) benefits, the Disability Policy includes an initial provision identical to the one providing for STD benefits.[10] Admin. R. at 0027. Some of the applicable definitions to the terms and phrases, however, are different. In particular, the Disability Policy defines “Disabled” or “Disability” with respect to LTD benefits as meaning “during the Elimination Period and the next 24 months of Disability the Covered Person, as a result of Injury or Sickness, is unable to perform the Material and Substantial Duties of his Own Occupation.” Id. at 0008; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 2; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 2; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 15.

         Unlike the definition of “Disabled” applicable to STD benefits, the LTD benefits' definition references the phrase “Own Occupation.” Admin. R. at 0008. The Disability Policy defines “Own Occupation” as “the Covered Person's occupation that he was performing when his Disability or Partial Disability began. For the purposes of determining Disability under this policy, Liberty [Life] will consider the Covered Person's occupation as it is normally performed in the national economy.” Admin. R. at 0010; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 2; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 2; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 15. Also, after receiving benefits for 24 months, LTD benefits will continue if the claimant's condition prevents him or her from performing the duties of any occupation. Admin. R. at 0008; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 15.

         Along with the above-referenced provisions applicable to claims for STD and LTD benefits, the Disability Policy provides that “Liberty [Life], at its own expense, may have the right and opportunity to have a Covered Person, whose Injury or Sickness is the basis of a claim, examined or evaluated at reasonable intervals deemed necessary by Liberty [Life]. This right may be used as often as reasonably required.” Admin. R. at 0045; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 4; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 4. With regard to interpreting its provisions, the Disability Policy provides that “Liberty [Life] shall possess the authority, in its sole discretion, to construe the terms of this policy and to determine benefit eligibility hereunder. Liberty[ Life's] decisions regarding construction of the terms of this policy and benefit eligibility shall be conclusive and binding.” Admin. R. at 0046; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 5; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 5. In addition to having responsibility for deciding questions concerning benefit eligibility, Liberty Life is “responsible for paying benefits to covered persons determined to be eligible for such benefits.” Stipulation at ¶ 3, Doc. No. 32; Pl's Facts at ¶ 6; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 6.

         2.The Plaintiff's Application for STD Benefits

         In January 2013, the plaintiff submitted a disability claim for STD benefits with Liberty Life. Admin. R. at 0071, 0370.[11] On the claim form, the plaintiff indicated that his injury or illness began on January 4, 2013, and his last day of work was on that date. Admin. R. at 0370. When asked to describe “how and where the injury occurred” or the “onset and nature of your illness, ” the plaintiff stated: “Impaired mobility and inability to walk unassisted. Right leg unable to sustain weight. Extended periods of obesity may have caused deterioration in function of joints and tendons. Despite significant weight loss, impairment has increased.” Admin. R. at 0370.

         As part of Liberty Life's investigation into the plaintiff's claim for STD benefits, it requested medical records and information from an internal medicine/primary care physician, Dr. Ryan Minnich, who the plaintiff had identified as his treating physician. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 4; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 13; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 13; Admin. R. at 0071, 0370. In response to this request, Liberty Life received various documents from Dr. Minnich reflecting treatment records and medical reports during 2012. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 5; Admin. R. at 0373-0395.

         Included among those medical records was a March 15, 2012 carotid ultrasound report showing that the plaintiff had “Bilateral 16-49% stenosis of internal carotid arteries.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 10; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 10; Admin. R. at 0384. The records also contained an April 24, 2012 report from cardiologist Roger B. Rehr, M.D., F.A.C.C. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 11; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 11; Admin. R. at 0386-0389. This report indicated that the plaintiff “is a delightful, morbidly obese, 58-year-old man currently weighing 417 pounds.” Admin. R. at 0386.

         The plaintiff had informed Dr. Rehr that [o]ver the past 6-9 months [he] has noticed a decreased exercise tolerance. If he walks even 25 feet he will become diaphoretic and short of breath. He has had no chest discomfort. He has had no orthopnea or PND but he does sleep in a recliner due to back pain.

         Id.; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 11; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 11. Dr. Rehr also reported about an exercise stress test that the plaintiff performed in September 1999, during which “[h]is functional capacity was 30% impaired.” Admin. R. at 0386.

         During his review of systems, Dr. Rehr noted that [p]ertinent positives reported by the patient include episodic weight gain or weight loss, right knee discomfort with walking, dyspnea with exertion, or diaphoresis. The patient does report that his wife has indicated that he stops breathing sometimes when he is sleeping. He was set up to have a sleep study in 2004 . . . but refused to complete the study because of the smell of the EEG electrode paste on his scalp. Otherwise, on questioning the patient, comprehensive review of all other systems is negative.

         Id. at 0388.

         For the physical examination, Dr. Rehr noted that the plaintiff “is morbidly obese. He has difficulty lying down on the examination table and then again sitting up because of his size.

         He appears to be in no acute distress and is not short of breath at rest.” Id. Dr. Rehr's impressions of the plaintiff were: “Increased dyspnea with exertion and diaphoresis with exertion over the past 6-9 months[;] . . . Morbid obesity[;] . . . Likely obstructive sleep apnea[;] .

         . . Dyslipidemia[;] . . . Diabetes[;] . . . [and] Medical noncompliance.” Id.

         In his “Discussion/Plan, ” Dr. Rehr indicated in pertinent part as follows:

         [The plaintiff] presents a problem in terms of his morbid obesity and his medical noncompliance. He previously refused to complete a sleep apnea study because of the electrode paste. He has not taken any of his medications for the past two days because he “forgot”. He did manage to lose substantial weight and dropped down to 340 pounds in February of 2010 but then gained it all back.

         At this time he has shortness of breath with relatively small amounts of exertion, which have been present and without significant change for the past 6-9 months. Because of his risk factor status I was concerned about the possibility that this might represent coronary artery disease and I wanted to obtain a dobutamine echocardiographic stress test with him. I discussed the procedure of that study, the risks of it, etc[.], and he refused at this time to have the study because “he has to walk too far when he goes to The Reading Hospital for studies”. As he describes it, with his morbid obesity he is unable to walk as far as he needs to. I indicated to him that The Reading Hospital has Valet parking and we could arrange for a wheelchair to meet him at his car and take him to the stress test area, but he declined that at this time. He said he will “let that one alone for now” or something with that meaning, indicating that he did not want to pursue testing at this time in spite of the reasons for it, which I explained fully to him.

         I indicated to [him] the importance of taking medications as prescribed and pointed out that stopping the metoprolol could, in fact, precipitate a myocardial infarction. He agreed to start on his medications again tonight and to take them faithfully. He is going to monitor his blood pressure twice daily, while at rest, over the next month and he will see me back in the office in a month and we will make further adjustments in his therapy.

         Otherwise, I discussed with him the real need to get him set up for sleep apnea testing again and, as you will see from the enclosed note, I have sent a letter to Respiratory Specialists trying to do everything possible to get him to proceed with the sleep apnea test. I am hopeful, if necessary, they will modify their procedure slightly in order to be able to get some useful information on a perhaps less than optimal study as opposed to no information obtained because a perfectly performed test cannot be done.

         Id. at 0388-0389.

         Also included in the medical records was a May 4, 2012 report from Karen Delong, MSN, CRNP, from Respiratory Specialists, which indicated that the plaintiff suffered from obstructive sleep apnea. Id. at 0391-0395; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 12; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 12. Although Nurse Delong discussed with the plaintiff about the possibility of a sleep study and recommended that he get one, the plaintiff did not choose to schedule any studies at that time. Admin. R. at 0394.

         Dr. Minnich also provided Liberty Life with an Attending Physician's Statement dated January 18, 2013. Id. at 0373-0374; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 14; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 14. In this statement, Dr. Minnich stated that he had treated the plaintiff since January 13, 2012, and the plaintiff's last visit with him occurred on January 15, 2013. Admin. R. at 0373. Dr. Minnich also stated that the plaintiff was advised to cease work “by [his] employer due to his abnormal gait.” Id. Dr. Minnich identified the following diagnoses: Abnormality of gait, morbid obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, Legg-Calve Perthes Disease, hypertension, “NIDDM, ” and hyperlipidemia. Id. His prognosis for the plaintiff was “fair.” Id. Dr. Minnich's proposed treatment plan was “His maintain [sic] of treatment is weight loss related to morbid obesity. He is not a surgical candidate.” Id. at 0374. In completing the remainder of the form, Dr. Minnich indicated that the plaintiff had (1) a Class 4 physical impairment, defined as a “[m]oderate limitation of functional capacity; capable of clerical/administration activity;” (2) a Class 3 mental/nervous impairment, defined as “[p]atient is able to engage in only limited stressful situations and engage only in limited interpersonal relations (moderate limitations);” and (3) a Class 3 cardiac impairment, defined as a “[m]arked [l]imitation.”[12] Id.; Pl.'s Facts at ¶¶ 14-18; Def.'s Resp. at ¶¶ 14-18.

         As part of its assessment of the plaintiff's claim for STD benefits, Liberty Life also received an Employer's Statement form completed by Erin Cutler (“Cutler”), a regional human resources manager of Pratt Industries.[13] Id. at 0404. The form indicates that the plaintiff's occupation was a controller, and this position was “[a]ccountable for all accounting operations at the company, accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoicing, billings, and other financial duties.” Id. The form also listed the physical requirements of the job as involving sitting for 80% of the day, standing for 10% of the day, and walking for 10% of the day. Id. The form also identified the lifting requirements as five pounds. Id.

         During the review process, nurse Karen Hughes reviewed the plaintiff's file and prepared a January 31, 2013 file note summarizing the results of her review. Id. at 0070; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 7. In the notes of Ms. Hughes' file summary, she noted, inter alia, the following: (1) the plaintiff contemplated medical leave after Pratt Industries recommended it due to his mobility issues; (2) the plaintiff was ambulating with a cane and reporting discomfort of his right knee; (3) the plaintiff had comorbid conditions of diabetes and morbid obesity, but the diabetes was well controlled per recent lab work; and (4) the plaintiff's physical examination was “ESSENTIALLY NORMAL” and there were no documented musculoskeletal examinations. Id. Based on her observations that there were no physical exam findings to support a gait abnormality; thus, she concluded that “WHILE THE [PLAINTIFF] MAY NEED TO UTILIZE A CANE AS NEEDED FOR COMFORT, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF FUNCTIONAL DEFECTS TO NECESSITATE AN ASSISTIVE DEVICE.” Admin. R. at 0070; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 7.

         Via a letter dated February 5, 2013, Liberty Life denied the plaintiff's claim for STD benefits. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 8; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 31; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 31; Admin. R. at 0362-0364. In denying the claim, Liberty Life stated that it had reviewed the records from Dr. Minnich and had consulted with a disability nurse case manager. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 8; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 31; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 31; Admin. R. at 0362-0363. Liberty Life noted that his medical condition was not of such severity to “prevent [him] from performing [his] sedentary job duties, which require[d him] to sit 60% [sic], with occasional walking 10% of the time.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 31; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 31; Admin. R. at 0363. In addition, Liberty Life stated that

[a]lthough you were diagnosed with gait abnormality and it was documented you reported symptoms of pain in your right knee and in the right side of your pelvis, there were no abnormal physical exam findings to support restrictions and limitations. While it is noted you ambulate with a cane as needed for comfort, there is no evidence of functional deficits to necessitate an assistive device.
We understand that you may have symptoms associated with your condition; however, the above information does not support a condition of such severity to preclude you from performing your job as a Controller for Pratt Industries, U.S.A.

Id.; see Def.'s Facts at ¶ 8.

         On February 7, 2013, shortly after the decision to deny the plaintiff's STD benefits claim, Liberty Life received a physical job evaluation form completed by Cutler on behalf of Pratt Industries USA. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 9; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 45; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 45; Admin. R. at 0360.

         In describing the physical requirements of the plaintiff's controller job, unlike the earlier form she completed on behalf of Pratt Industries, Cutler indicated that the job required him to sit 3 hours a day, stand 2 hours a day, and walk 2 hours a day. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 9; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 45; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 45; Admin. R. at 0360. Cutler also stated that the plaintiff was required to bend frequently, reach above shoulder level frequently, reach shoulder level frequently, and reach below shoulder level frequently. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 45; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 45; Admin. R. at 0360.

         The plaintiff also had to lift up to 20 pounds daily. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 45; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 45; Admin. R. at 0360. In the comments section, Cutler stated that “[a] great deal of the Controller job requires significant walking and getting around the plant for physical inventory and taking stock of product.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 45; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 45; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 9; Admin. R. at 0360.

         The plaintiff appealed from Liberty Life's decision to deny STD benefits via a letter dated February 20, 2013, and attached medical documentation. Admin. R. at 0345-0359. In his letter, the plaintiff stated, inter alia, that (1) he experienced pain and fatigue while using his cane, but it was “bearable as long as I am going a short distance, ” (2) he experienced “excruciating” pain when he takes his weight or load off of his leg, (3) he has “unbearable” pain in his lower back if he stands for too long, even while using his cane, (4) this lower back pain causes him to avoid going into the plants and warehouses because there are very few places to sit and rest, (5) he could not use a wheelchair or scooter to move about in the plants and warehouses due to the irregular surfaces and levels, (6) “[t]he stairs and irregular surfaces became a significant issue at both plants [he] was responsible for, as there are offices and conference rooms on two different floors of both, with no elevators, ” (7) when traversing the stairs, he would use both hands to grab the railing while tying his cane to his belt and dragging it behind him, (8) he frequently experienced “stumbling and missteps” on the stairs (which caused other employees to “express worry and concern”), (9) he requested and received permission not to attend the October 2012 Pratt controller meeting due to his worsening mobility factors, (10) he missed some doctors' visits over the past year due to work emergencies and not because of “negligence or low concern, ” (11) although he was able to delegate some of his responsibilities to minimize the amount of walking he has to do at work, he was not able to count on the delegation to other employees to get consistent results and, thus, “while computer work and desk work is indeed the biggest slice of the day, time-wise, every plant controller in the corrugated packaging manufacturing industry needs to be capable of observing product and production within the typical 150, 000 sf plant and/or warehouse, ” and (12) “everyone that knows or deals with [him] . . . have no question . . . that [he has] become disabled, and that [he] needs rehabilitation now. This was not [his] idea or decision or request, and if not for the intervention, [he] would still be trying to hobble around pain or not.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 42; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 42; Admin. R. at 0345-0348.

         Among the documents attached to the plaintiff's February 20, 2013 letter were office visit notes from Sana Hanafi, M.D., an internist. Admin. R. at 0352-0359; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21. The notes reflect that the plaintiff visited Dr. Hanafi for hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, and obesity. Admin. R. at 0353, 0355. Dr. Hanafi indicated that the plaintiff told her that “[h]e works at plants in a company that manufactures boxes where more than 60% of the time he has a desk job however has to go on site and be on his feet, at times he has had [f]alls.” Admin. R. at 0353. The plaintiff described to Dr. Hanafi “right leg pain which is excruciating burning and tingling pain from his right hip down to his right knee, not associated with back pain however gets worse about a scale of 10/10 when [w]eight-bearing.” Admin. R. at 0353; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21. In addition, the plaintiff “uses a cane to compensate his weight and of course has gait dysfunction which has been leading to multiple falls in the past.” Admin. R. at 0353; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21.

         During Dr. Hanafi's physical examination of the plaintiff, she noted that the plaintiff had “[l]imited range of motion of the right hip joint and knee joint because of excruciating pain. Patient moaning and seems to be in extreme pain while trying to extend his right leg. Straight leg raising test in sitting position is positive for sciatica at approximately 45 degrees.” Admin. R. at 0354; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21. In Dr. Hanafi's review of symptoms, she noted that the plaintiff had a “[n]ormal [m]ood” and was “[c]ooperative.” Admin. R. at 0354.

         Dr. Hanafi's assessment and diagnosis indicated that the plaintiff had (1) obesity, (2) ambulatory dysfunction, (3) pain of right leg, (4) juvenile osteochondrosis of hip and pelvis, (5) essential hypertension, (6) sciatica of right side, and (7) repeated falls. Admin. R. at 0355-0356; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 21. Dr. Hanafi also noted past diagnoses of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, valvular heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, ambulatory dysfunction: legg perthes disease, and obesity. Admin. R. at 0354.

         Dr. Hanafi had the plaintiff submit to an x-ray of his right hip and right knee along with the examination. Admin. R. at 0355, 0358-0359. The x-ray of the plaintiff's right hip revealed osteoarthritis with possible osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Admin. R. at 0358; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21. The x-ray of the plaintiff's right knee revealed “[n]ew dystrophic calcification adjacent to the medial femoral condyle.”[14] Admin. R. at 0359; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 21; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 21.

         In addition to Dr. Hanafi's office visit notes and the x-ray reports, the plaintiff also provided Liberty Life with progress notes from a visit with Tracy D. Frombach, D.O., of Commonwealth Orthopaedic Associates on February 13, 2013. Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 22. Dr. Frombach's notes from her examination of the plaintiff revealed impressions of (1) morbid obesity, (2) weakness in the quadriceps, hamstring, and hip flexor, (3) severe osteoarthritis of the right hip, and (4) mild osteoarthritis changes of the right knee. Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22. Her physical examination notes showed that (1) the plaintiff had “crepitus about the knee with flexion and extension[, ]” (2) a McMurray's sign gave him general discomfort, (3) he had “minimal range of motion and internal and external rotation of the hip, ” giving him discomfort through his quadriceps, and (4) he had “weakness through the hip flexor and lifting the leg off the table with approximately 4-/5 strength.” Admin. R. at 0350; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22.

         Dr. Frombach also reviewed the plaintiff's February 8, 2013 x-rays of his knee and hip. Admin. R. at 0350; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22. The x-ray of the knee showed mild degenerative changes of the medial femoral condyle, and the x-ray of the hip showed “severe degenerative changes.” Admin. R. at 0350; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22.

         Regarding her plan for the plaintiff, Dr. Frombach indicated that the plaintiff would be sent to another doctor “for further evaluation of his right hip severe degenerative changes and prior history of Legg Calve Perthes disease for evaluation of total hip replacement.” Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22. Dr. Frombach did not feel that the plaintiff “needs full disability” because he “can perform sedentary work duties.” Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22. In addition, Dr. Frombach noted that the plaintiff had a handicap placard, which she felt was appropriate for him, and he could continue to walk with his four-prong cane. Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22. Nonetheless, she indicated that “due to [the plaintiff's] . . . osteoarthritis and obesity, [he] should not walk for any long periods of time or any long distances.” Admin. R. at 0351; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 22; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 22.

         Following the receipt of this additional information from the plaintiff and after receiving the February 7, 2013 job description from Cutler, Liberty Life referred the plaintiff's file to another of its nurse case managers for a file review. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 11; Admin. R. at 0068-0069. On February 26, 2013, Nurse Janet Green prepared notes to summarize her review. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 12; Admin. R. at 0068-0069. In the note, Nurse Green summarized the records she reviewed and concluded that the plaintiff's mobility and hip problems prevented him from walking and standing on more than an occasional basis. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 12; Admin. R. at 0068-0069. Soon thereafter, Liberty Life reversed its initial decision denying the plaintiff's STD benefits claim, and he ultimately received STD benefits for the period of January 21, 2013, through April 7, 2013, which was the maximum duration applicable for such benefits under the Disability Policy.[15] Def.'s Facts at ¶ 13; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 8; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 8; Admin. R. at 0067, 0068, 0074, 0148. The plaintiff's gross STD benefit was $750.00 weekly. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 8; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 8; Admin. R. at 0148.

         3.The Plaintiff's Application for LTD Benefits

         Shortly before the expiration of the plaintiff's STD benefits, Liberty Life began evaluating him to determine his eligibility for LTD benefits under the Disability Policy. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 14; Admin. R. at 0320-0321. As part of this investigation, Liberty Life sent requests for records to the plaintiff's treating physicians. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 16; Admin. R. at 0300-0301, 0306.

         In response to Liberty Life's requests, it received records from Dr. John Stelmach, an orthopedic surgeon who examined the plaintiff in March 2013. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 16; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 23; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 23; Admin. R. at 0303-0304. Dr. Stelmach's March 20, 2013 office visit notes indicate that his impressions were that the plaintiff had (1) severe osteoarthritis of the right hip, and (2) “severe degenerative changes [due to] flattening of the femoral head and increased femoral neck angle questionable due to the prior Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 23; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 23; Admin. R. at 0303-0304. Dr. Stelmach's treatment plan was as follows:

At this point due to his weight and not being a surgical candidate, he will need to lose another 50-100 lbs to get closer to a more appropriate BMI. He definitely is in need of a total hip replacement. When he gets closer to a more appropriate weight and he can be medically cleared we will do the total hip replacement. At this point the patient is probably not able to perform his work duties due to the risks of falling and ambulatory dysfunction when he walks. He seems to be pretty unstable on his leg and his four prong [cane] will help him with this, but due to the osteoarthritis and obesity it is appropriate to say that the patient will not be able to walk on a regular basis.

Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 23; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 23; Admin. R. at 0303-0304.

         Liberty Life also forwarded Dr. Stelmach a letter dated March 28, 2013, and a “restrictions form.”[16] In the letter, Liberty Life asked whether the plaintiff could perform sedentary or light capacity work and provided definitions and characteristics of both forms of work.[17] Def.'s Facts at ¶ 16; Pl.'s Facts at ¶¶ 24, 25; Def.'s Resp. at ¶¶ 24, 25; Admin. R. at 0302. Dr. Stelmach returned the letter to Liberty Life on March 29, 2013, and he indicated his opinion that the plaintiff “is unable to work [at] this time.”[18] Def.'s Facts at ¶ 16; Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 26; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 26; Admin. R. at 0300. On the same date, Dr. Stelmach returned the restrictions form to Liberty Life where he also indicated his opinion that the plaintiff was capable of “no work [at] this time.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 26; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 26; Def.'s Facts at ¶ 16; Admin. R. at 0302.

         The plaintiff also completed a Liberty Life activities questionnaire in support of his claim for benefits. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 43; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 43; Admin. R. at 0278-0280. In the questionnaire, the plaintiff indicated that he (1) could sit for 15 consecutive minutes, (2) could stand for 1.5 consecutive minutes with cane support, but was limited by back pain and arm fatigue, (3) could walk for 2 minutes with cane support, but possibly for longer if he leaned his weight onto a shopping cart, (4) did not stand or walk without support, (5) sat, laid, or slept for 22 hours a day, (6) stood (with cane support) approximately 20 minutes a day, and (7) walked (with a cane, bracing, or shopping cart) for approximately 90 minutes a day, (8) cannot sleep in a flat bed, so he uses a recliner to sleep, (9) experiences fatigue when he uses a normal or desk chair, (10) can sit in a car with a reclining seat for about a maximum of one hour, (11) had a handicapped placard, but had to come back to a location if a handicapped spot was unavailable or not within a “couple minutes of a shopping cart” (where he would use his cane to get to the cart), (12) can do approximately 20 minutes of shopping if he has a shopping cart, but could not go into a store that did not have or allow shopping carts, and (13) was unable to travel or take vacations due to mobility issues and the need for a recliner to sleep. Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 43; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 43; Admin. R. at 0278-0279. The plaintiff also stated that his lack of mobility kept him from getting out into the “typical 150, 000 [square foot] production plant and warehouses, to attend to job cost duties and inventory duties, and troubleshoot[] production reporting.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 44; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 44; Admin. R. at 0280. The plaintiff stated that he needed this type of mobility, which “include[ed] being able to get between loads and units.” Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 44; Def.'s Resp. at ¶ 44; Admin. R. at 0280.

         Along with requesting and receiving records from the plaintiff's treating physicians as part of its investigation, Liberty Life sent an email to Pratt Industries requesting clarification of the physical requirements of the plaintiff's job because Cutler had submitted differing physical job evaluation information. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 17; Admin. R. at 0316. In the email, Liberty Life indicated that it needed clarification and an accurate description of the plaintiff's job demands as part of its LTD benefits evaluation and so its vocational specialist could evaluate how the plaintiff's occupation is performed in the national economy. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 17; Admin. R. at 0316. In response to this email, Pratt Industries sent an email stating that the information provided by Cutler on February 7, 2013, was more accurate and should be used. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 17; Admin. R. at 0314.

         After receiving Dr. Stelmach's medical records and the clarification from Pratt Industries about the plaintiff's job duties, Liberty Life requested its vocational rehabilitation department to complete a vocational report summarizing the principal duties of the plaintiff's controller occupation as it is performed in the national economy. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 18; Admin. R. at 0294. On April 8, 2013, Bernadette Cook (“Cook”), a senior vocational case manager, prepared a report in response to Liberty Life's request. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 18; Admin. R. at 0238-0240.

         In Cook's report, she summarized the principal duties associated with the plaintiff's controller position, including the information provided by Pratt Industries. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 19; Admin. R. at 0238. She did not speak to the plaintiff. ...


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