SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A federal court jury ordered Standard Insurance Company to pay damages in the amount of $873,532.52 to Cassaundra Ellena, a former Sonoma County Redevelopment Manager, who suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease. Ms. Ellena was insured under a group long term disability policy that Standard originally sold to the County of Sonoma in 2003 for its employees -- and Standard presently remains the long term disability insurer for the County of Sonoma. Ms. Ellena argued at trial that Standard had made a highly selective and self-serving review of the evidence and disregarded, among other evidence, three statements by her treating doctor that she was unable to work. Ms. Ellena further argued that Standard continues to disregard evidence that supports payment of the claim, including a decision by a judge with the Social Security Administration that she was disabled from any occupation. In denying her claim, Standard’s employees followed its established claims procedures and handled the claim as they were trained to do. The jury found that Standard acted in bad faith by unreasonably denying Ms. Ellena benefits due under the policy.
“Standard was very aggressive in trying to settle this case -- as it does with other cases -- to keep the case out of court and out of the public eye. But, as they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. We hope that is true here,” said Bennett M. Cohen, co-counsel along with Stephen M. Murphy for Ms. Ellena.
Bennett M. Cohen has been involved in handling bad faith disability cases for more than 20 years. He was one of the youngest attorneys ever to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court. Stephen M. Murphy has tried many cases to successful conclusion in California, especially in the employment field, and has won numerous 7 figure verdicts.