Free Consultation 877.583.2524
We do not handle social security disability claims
logo celebrating

Nationwide Leaders in Disability Insurance Law

shook hands

Insurer Avoids Providing Documentation Which Would Reveal Bias Of Hired Doctors

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

In ERISA long term disability insurance claim disputes, a fertile battleground has been found regarding the issue of the doctors repeatedly hired by insurance companies, either directly, or through various third part vendors, to review records and issue reports to support the denial or termination of a long term disability insurance claim. The evidence of bias which can be gathered through discovery can be significant, and in some cases, could mean the difference between success and failure in litigation.

A recent decision highlights the significance of the issue. Hartford Insurance, one of the largest providers of long term disability insurance benefits, recently sought to overturn a decision from a California federal court that ordered it to produce significant materials which would reflect on the nature and scope of its relationships with third party vendors and the hired doctors. To accomplish its goal of overturning the discovery decision, Hartford Insurance chose to agree to a less favorable standard of review of its claim determination for the termination of a long term disability claim.

By way of background, in ERISA disability insurance litigation, claims are reviewed by a Judge either under a de novo standard of review or an abuse of discretion standard of review. The abuse of discretion standard is favorable to insurance companies, as many courts have indicated that a claim decision will be upheld under that standard as long as it is supported by some evidence in the record. In contrast, the de novo standard of review will determine whose position is more correct, rather than whether the insurance company abused its discretion.

So here, Hartford Insurance agreed to lessen the deference afforded by the Court for the sole purpose of avoiding producing the discovery materials about its relationships with the doctors and vendors. The clear implication of Hartford Insurance’s strategic decision is that they would rather lose this one long term disability litigation than reveal evidence of its relationships which could impact a myriad of other ERISA disability litigation.

Rowell v. Aviza Technology (Hartford Life)

Justin C Frankel

Written By:

Justin C. Frankel - Disability Insurance Attorney

Justin Frankel is a founding partner of the disability insurance law firm Frankel & Newfield and is a highly skilled litigator and advocate. He has published numerous articles on the challenges facing clients with private or individual disability insurance policies and those who own group or ERISA disability insurance policies.

Learn more about Justin | See Justin’s Publications



Ready To Talk?

Fill out the form to request a FREE legal consultation

Sorry, we do not handle SSDI/Social Security claims.

Frankel & Newfield does not currently handle any Social Security Disability Insurance claims.


*Required fields are marked

I have read the disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


This is about a Social Security Disability claim.

Ipad image

Download Our Free eBook


Secrets the Disability Insurance Companies Don't Want You to know!

Sign Up for our mailing list to receive disability insurance law updates

Your information is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone


No matter where you are nationwide, we are here to help.

We have the resources and support to take on the largest insurance companies.

Contact us today for our nationwide service.

Contact Us
Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming