Bipolar Former Employee Awarded $1.3M in ADA Case

May 10, 2006 ( - A federal jury awarded $1.3 million to a former Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. agent who said he was fired as a result of his bipolar disorder.

The Boston Globe reports that Kevin Tobin, a 37-year veteran of the company, was awarded $500,000 in emotional distress damages, $439,315 in lost wages, and $416,664 in lost pension and retirement benefits.

According to court documents, the company argued that Tobin failed to meet minimum standards and was placed on probation several times from 1992 to 2001, the news report said. Liberty also said Tobin rarely ”prospected” for new business.

Tobin’s lawyer, Frank Frisoli argued that Liberty did not adequately accommodate Tobin’s disability as required by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and state disability laws. During the trial the company argued that Tobin did not have a disability even though it had approved two prior disability leaves and created a reentry program to help the insurance agent improve his job performance, he said.

Liberty countered that, after his two medical leaves, Tobin’s doctor had indicated he was returning without any major limitations or restrictions.

According to Frisoli, Tobin would have been able to perform the essential functions of his job if he had received the same amount of help as others in his office.   He noted that a top performer was given three assistants, while Tobin received sporadic assistance from a service representative who supervised other representatives and was not always available.   Frisoli said Tobin regularly worked long hours to make up for his difficulties.