Feltington v. Hartford – Delay Tactics

When claims denials end up going to litigation, they can be both costly and time consuming to both sides involved.  One example is the case of Feltington v. Hartford Life Insurance Company.[1] Lisa Feltington, a quality assurance coordinator, filed a claim with her disability insurance carrier, Hartford Life Insurance Company.  These benefits were terminated and eventually she filed a lawsuit against Hartford.

The lawsuit has now entered its seventh year of litigation, with over 100 entries on the docket and a 1,000-page administrative record.  This drawn-out lawsuit has drawn consternation from the judge, who harshly criticized counsel, saying “[t]he result has been a mind-numbing elevation of for over substance which had devolved into a conflagration that all but extinguished the search for truth.”

Arguments included whether a magistrate judge could rule on certain motions, including a motion to expand the administrative record.  At issue was a Functional Capacity Examination (FCE) that was performed on Ms. Feltington on May 16, 2014.  According to Hartford the document was unsigned and they stated the author was anonymous.  According to Hartford, they attempted to contact Best Physical Therapy Associates and then ultimately concluded that the FCE was less than objective.

Despite these statements, a letter from a Susan Greenberg was written explaining that she was the one who had performed the FCE and explained that she had returned the call of Dr. Small from Hartford.  Years later in litigation, the judge ruled that “the Greenburg letter, which clarifies these seemingly critical concerns (and was ignored by Hartford) must be considered in connection with this matter.”

Further, arguments in the case arose regarding the disclosure of a small portion of Hartford’s claims manual—including multiple rounds of discovery and court orders.  Hartford began its effort to avoid discovery outside the administrative record in 2015.  After being ordered to do so by the judge, Hartford released an initially heavily redacted portion of its claims manual in April 2016.  This excerpt remains central to the case, and was discussed in length in the judge’s recent 2022 ruling.

As stated above, the judge in this matter harshly criticized Hartford for its delay tactics in this case; however, these long delay tactics by insurance companies’ counsel are not uncommon.  Insurance companies have greater financial resources and time than insureds, and use this to their advantage when a lawsuit arises.  This case highlights the importance of filing strong claims from the outset, to avoid lengthy litigation later down the road.

If your insurance company is employing delay tactics, please feel free to reach out to one of our attorneys directly.

[1] Feltington v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., No. CV 14-6616 (GRB), 2022 WL 499079 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 2022).

Every claim is unique and the discussion above is only a limited summary of the court’s ruling in this case. If you are concerned that your insurer is using any of the tactics above to evaluate your claim, an experienced disability insurance attorney can help you assess the situation and determine what options, if any, are available.


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