Doctors Suit Asserts UnumProvident Had Policy Of Denying Claims

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UnumProvident Corp. is accused in a lawsuit of denying disability claims whether they were valid or not.

The suit, filed June 28, was brought by Patrick Fergal McSharry, a doctor who once worked as a medical director for UnumProvident in Chattanooga, Tenn. He claims the company employed doctors “to provide language and conclusions supporting denial of claims.”

The suit also claims that when he began writing his reports “accurately and without the foregone conclusion to deny the claim(McSharry) began to suffer retaliation,” including “verbal and written write-ups and warnings. He was subjected to constant criticism and ostracism.”

The suit, which claims McSharry spoke with other medical personnel about “the illegality of (Unums) practices,” says McSharry was fired in January for “disruptive behavior.”

Tom White, Unum vice president, corporate relations, says the company “will definitely fight (the lawsuit); our company embraces very high ethical and professional standards, we deny all allegations against wrongdoing and will rigorously defend ourselves.”

He says McSharry had been hired in 1999 as a consultant and worked as a medical director from Nov. 1, 2000 to Jan. 8, 2002 when he was fired “for performance.”

“I think its important to note that at no time did his duties include making determination to benefits,” White says. “His duty was to review medical records and answer questions about medical records, but not to decide whether a claim was valid.”

McSharry is seeking back wages, reinstatement to his former position, compensation for mental suffering, humiliation and embarrassment, punitive damages and costs of attorney fees.

McSharrys lawyer Anita Hardeman of Burnette, Dobson & Hardeman, Chattanooga, Tenn., did not respond to requests for comment. Her assistant says Unum has 30 days from the time the lawsuit was filed to respond. It has not yet done so.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, July 29, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.