Appeals Judges Uphold Benefits Cutoff

November 9, 2004 ( - A federal appeals court has turned away an appeal by a woman who claims her former employer's long-term disability policy carrier was wrong in terminating her benefits.

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by US Magistrate Max Cogburn Jr. in the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina that Continental Casualty Co./CNA was within its rights in making the benefits cutoff decision.

Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig, writing for the court, said there was a good deal of support for CNA making the decision it did to stop benefits to plaintiff Sandra Abromitis in April 2002, saying she was capable of doing work that was more sedentary than her previous jobs.

“We conclude that CNA did not abuse its discretion because its decision to terminate Abromitis’ benefits was the result of a deliberate, principles reasoning process and supported by substantial evidence,” Luttig wrote.

Abromitis was employed by Aris Corporation as a consultant and analyst before December 1999. Abromitis applied for disability benefits in 2000 after her fourth hip replacement surgery made walking difficult, according to the opinion. She later reported that she also had various hand maladies including arthritis and suffered from migraine headaches.

A copy of the ruling is at