Disability insurance denied on defence of no objective proof of disability - lymphedema
Geoff's client, KN, was in her mid-forties. She had enjoyed a successful well-paying career. Ten years earlier she had undergone cancer surgery which resulted in the removal of pelvic lymph nodes. Over time she developed swelling in her left leg. Her family doctor diagnosed lymphedema.
Her disability insurer twice denied her claim on the basis there was no objective proof of disability. As well, any difficulty at work had been accommodated by the ability to alternate between sitting and standing postures.
Medical school training provides less than a full day of instruction on the condition of lymphedema. There are only a couple of medical specialists in lymphedema in Canada.
Apart from the swelling in KN's leg, there was no obvious sign of medical impairment. Geoff spent many hours preparing KN for cross-examination by the defence lawyer. She calmly described the devastating effect of lymphedema.
Geoff retained an American specialist in lymphedema for a document review. Based on the discovery transcript and thorough medical brief prepared by Geoff, the specialist provided an opinion that there was objective evidence that JN was unable to work at any occupation even with workplace accommodation.
Practice area(s): Insurance
Court: Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court