D&H Therapy Assocs., LLC v. Boston Mut. Life Ins., No. 10-1423 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The company purchased a disability benefits plan, regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. A part-owner and employee of the company received benefits for about four years before the insurer terminated benefits because her non-salary income was higher than her salary income had been. The plan defines "pre-disability earnings" as: "your monthly rate of earnings from the employer in effect just prior to the date disability begins" and "basic annual earnings" as the amount reported by the policyholder on a W-2, excluding commissions. The company argued that a provision allowing termination of benefits when "current earnings" reach a percentage of pre-disability earnings referred to earnings from all sources. The district court held that the employee was not entitled to benefits but denied the insurer reimbursement. The First Circuit reversed, in favor of the employee, finding that the insurer's interpretation of the plan was unreasonable.