Johnson v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., No. 13-2645 (8th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
From 1995-2009, Johnson worked for CRE. In the last three years, Johnson worked from home, 8 hours a day at a computer. Johnson was covered under CRE’s United disability insurance policy. In 1999, Johnson was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In 2004, she underwent neck surgery for nerve injuries. On the day she resigned, Johnson visited MacDonald, her primary care physician, who diagnosed anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. Johnson completed a short-term disability form. MacDonald completed an Attending Physician’s Statement. United denied the application. Based on the recommendations of its doctor, United denied Johnson’s appeal. Johnson sought long-term disability benefits. MacDonald completed a Physician’s Statement that imposed multiple limitations. United denied the claim. Johnson appealed. United referred Johnson’s file and medical records to Boscardin, an orthopedic surgeon, who determined that, although Johnson experienced chronic pain in her neck and spine, Johnson’s complaints were not supported by “conclusive, objective evidence.” McClellan, Johnson’s surgeon, responded that he “[o]verall” agreed with Boscardin. United denied the appeal. Johnson sued under ERISA. The district court granted Johnson summary judgment, finding that United failed to consider Johnson’s condition as a whole. The Eighth Circuit reversed, finding the denial supported by substantial evidence.