Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...
Former National Football League cornerback Charles Dimry convinced a federal judge in California that the league’s retirement plan was wrong when it denied him total and permanent disability benefits.
The plan failed to properly examine Dimry’s medical records and denied benefits based on an unreasonable bias in favor of plan-selected doctors, Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held March 12.
Donato’s ruling is another victory for former NFL players challenging the league’s decision to deny them disability benefits.
Last year, former NFL linebacker Jesse Solomon was awarded extra benefits from the league’s plan to account for head trauma and other injuries he suffered over a nine-season career. Former NFL tight end Jimmie Giles scored a similar victory against the league plan in 2013, when a federal judge in Maryland agreed that Giles became disabled within 15 years of retiring. Similar lawsuits by former safety Gene Atkins, guard BrentBoyd, and defensive end Jeffrey Bryant were less successful.
Donato took issue with the plan’s rationale for denying Dimry’s claim and the substantial payment one of the plan’s doctors received for his services. The plan “simply adopted the opinions of its retained” doctors by default, he said. Although a plan owes no special deference to the opinions of treating physicians and is entitled to treat a single medical opinion sufficient to adjudicate a claim, it isn’t entitled to decide a claim by “mere default to a plan-selected physician,” Donato said.
Donato sent the case back to the plan for re-evaluation because the record is mixed and doesn’t clearly establish Dimry’s eligibility for benefits. Dimry, who played for the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Diego Chargers between 1988 and 2000, suffered multiple injuries during his career that made him seek disability benefits in 2014.
Pillsbury & Coleman LLP represents Dimry. Groom Law Group Chartered and Farella Braun Martel LLP represent the plan.
The case is Dimry v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Ret. Plan, N.D. Cal., No. 3:16-cv-01413-JD, order granting plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment 3/12/18.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)