Raybourne v. CIGNA Life Ins. Co. of NY, No. 11-1295 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Raybourne was a quality engineer for 23 years. The employer provided a long-term disability plan that paid benefits for up to 24 months if disability prevented him from performing the duties of his regular job. After 24 months, the plan paid benefits only if he was unable to perform all material duties of any occupation for which he was reasonably qualified. Raybourne suffered degenerative joint disease in his foot, with severe pain. In 2003, he stopped working and underwent the first of the four surgeries. From December 2003 through February 2006, Cigna paid benefits, then determined that he was not disabled under the more stringent standard. Raybourne exhausted administrative remedies, then sued under 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B). The district court ruled in favor of Cigna. On remand the court rejected Cigna’s “unconvincing” explanation for how the company determined that Raybourne was not disabled. The court found that Cigna relied on the report of a non-treating physician and on the Social Security Administration’s initial rejections of Raybourne’s claim, failing to consider the SSA’s final determination of disability. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that denial of benefits was based on a conflict of interest rather than on the facts and the terms of the policy.