A federal court win for the home team was just published at Giddens v.The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, 356 F.Supp.2d 1313(N.D.Ga.,2004) [Westlaw $$$].
We represented a dentist / real estate developer on a disability insurance claim after he had liver failure requiring a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic. The insurance company took the position that during a long period of inability to work due to undiagnosed illness prior to diagnosis of liver failure, he abandoned both of his occupations, and therefore no longer had an occupation from which to become disabled. We won summary judgment before the Honorable Richard Story, U.S. District Judge in Atlanta.
The case is significant because it established Georgia precedent on (1) admissibility of disability opinions of treating physicians under Daubert despite lack of definitive tests and specialization in disability evaluation, with any deficiency going to weight rather than admissibility; and (2) rejection of insurer’s “occupation defense” that insured who was unable to work for extended time due to illness had abandoned occupation and therefore had no occupation from which to become disabled.
The insurer has filed an appeal pending in 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. We hope the appeal produces a published decision affirming Judge Story’s order, which other policyholders may use as precedent against The Equitable throughout the United States.
See the published order below:
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).