Court: Real-Estate Manager Not Disabled

March 27, 2002 ( - A federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that a Delaware real-estate manager wasn't completely disabled from back and digestive pain and wasn't entitled to disability claims.

US Circuit Judge Max Rosenn, of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, rejected claims by William Russell that a January 1996 decision by Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. to cut of his disability payments was not supported by the evidence.


According to court records, insurance company officials stopped the payments when they concluded that Russell didn’t meet the definition of total disability set out by his employer’s benefit plan.


Under that interpretation, disabled workers:

  • cannot perform the main duties of their job
  • are under regular doctor’s care
  • don’t work at all.

Rosenn pointed out that Rusell was still able to complete some of his normal responsibilities and that none of his medical tests had turned up a disease that would account for his symptoms.


Surveillance videotapes authorized by Paul Revere showed Rusell hunting, running errands, loading baggage of various sizes, and attending computer classes, the court said.


In general, Rosenn ruled that Paul Revere’s decision was based on:

  • the opinion of Russell’s treating doctors
  • an independent doctor’s opinion
  • the video surveillance.


Russell’s job consisted of coordinating the activities of property managers and other employees, financial analysis, and trips to property sites. He was granted long-term disability in March 1995.


Rosenn’s ruling upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.