Judge Upholds Disability Benefits Denial

November 29, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge denied efforts by a Minnesota internist to force his employer's long-term disability plan to begin benefit payments after the physician became addicted to painkillers and eventually closed his practice.

US District Judge David Doty, of the District of Minnesota, ruled that John Zenk wasn’t “totally disabled” as required by his company’s disability plan. He upheld the plan administrator’s benefits denial.

In agreeing with Paul Revere Life Insurance Co., which administered Zenk’s plan, Doty ruled that Zenk failed to provide “any evidence that the alleged disability condition created any meaningful impediment to his practice of medicine or caused him to provide inadequate care to his patients.”

DEA Probe

Zenk cut off the painkillers in 1998 after being investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the ruling.

The DEA probe prompted a review by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. State officials decided Zenk could keep practicing medicine if he took part in a treatment program.

According to the court, Zenk never underwent chemical dependency treatment or counseling.
Zenk continued to work full time after the Medical Board’s decision, but eventually quit practicing medicine. He then applied for benefits, which Paul Revere denied.

The court decision was Zenk v. Paul Revere Life Insurance Co., D. Minn., No. 00-2082.

– Fred Schneyer      editors@plansponsor.com