Woman says Wal-Mart disability plan wrongfully denied benefits

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 25, 2013

HUNTINGTON - A former employee is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Long-term Disability Plan in federal court after she claims her long-term disability benefits were wrongfully denied.

The Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Company and Does 1 through 10 were also named as defendants in the suit.

Deborah Youkers was employed by Wal-Mart and was a duly qualified participant in the long-term disability plan and duly complied with all of the conditions necessary to receive such benefits, according to a complaint filed March 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington.

Youkers claims the plan provided for the payment of disability benefits in the event that the participant became totally disabled.

In August 2009, due to neuropathy and a mass on her ribcage, Youkers became totally disabled by virtue of her inability to work as required by the plan and on Feb. 16, 2011, she received a letter from Hartford Senior Ability Analyst Philip K. Penney informing her that additional disability benefits would not be payable because she no longer met the plan's definition of "disability," according to the suit.

Youkers claims she appealed the denial on Aug. 15, 2011, and on Sept. 15, 2011, Hartford issued a final denial of her claim for benefits.

The conclusions of the defendants' review were contrary to the true condition of Youkers and the objective medical evidence of her treating physicians, according to the suit.

Youkers claims she is due rights and benefits under the terms of the plan and the defendants' denial was arbitrary, illegal, capricious, unreasonable, discriminatory and not made in good faith.

As a result of the defendants' actions, Youkers sustained damages, according to the suit.

Youkers is seeking the Court to order the defendants to pay her benefits due under the plan; declare that all rights and benefits due to her are vested and non-forfeitable or, in the alternative, to award her a money judgment for all sums owed; and pre-judgment interest. She is being represented by J. Patrick L. Stephens of Underwood Law Offices.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington case number: 3:13-cv-4897

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