Can I File Anonymously if I File a Disability Lawsuit?
A Case Study

When an insurance company denies a claim, the insured may have to resort to filing a lawsuit to collect their rightful benefits. Accordingly, insurance companies employ numerous tactics to deter insureds from filing lawsuits, especially those based on mental health claims like depression or anxiety.

One such example is the case of John Doe v. Berkshire Life Ins. Co.[1] where John Doe (formerly a high-powered CEO) sued his insurer, Guardian/Berkshire, for wrongfully denying his mental health claim.  When the CEO filed the claim, he sought to remain anonymous because: (1) the nature of his disability was mental health related (including PTSD) and highly-sensitive; (2) he feared he would be placing himself in danger by using his name because a former disgruntled employee had harassed him in the past; and (3) proceeding under his real name might exacerbate his PTSD symptoms. Guardian opposed the CEO’s motion, likely in the hopes of dissuading the CEO from pursuing his lawsuit.

Ultimately, the CEO’s motion was denied by the Court, as it determined the request did not meet the strict legal standard required to allow a party to proceed anonymously. Arguably, in this case, Guardian would have suffered little to no harm by allowing Doe to proceed anonymously; yet, they still chose to object.

Insurance companies have a history of wrongfully deterring individuals from challenging claim denials in similar cases, and they are unfortunately not above taking advantage of insureds who are financially, physically and/or emotionally vulnerable. Insurance companies often pull out all the stops when it comes to litigation because they have the advantage of time and financial resources on their side.  This can mean targeting those with mental health claims, especially those with strong reputations in their communities (including physicians and dentists), in the hopes that fear of public embarrassment may prompt them to drop the lawsuit, settle for less than they are owed, and/or allow an unfair denial to stand.

These can be challenging things to face—even for a CEO—especially if you are trying to take on the insurance company on your own. If you are concerned about how your insurance company has been treating you, or feel like your insurer is seeking to take advantage of your condition, an experienced disability attorney can help you evaluate the situation and what options are available to you.

[1] Doe v. Berkshire Life Ins. Co., Civil Action No. 20-CV-01033-PAB-NRN, 2020 WL 3429152 (D. Colo. June 23, 2020).


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