Widow Gets OK to Pursue Wrongful Benefits Denial Claim

August 8, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge in Delaware has cleared the way for a woman whose husband was killed in a car accident while on a partially business-related trip to pursue her wrongful benefit denial lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware issued the ruling in the suit by plaintiff Kelly Roarty, the widow ofDaniel Roarty.

Kelly Roarty claimed that Life Insurance Co. of   North America breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying her benefits under an accidental death policy from Tyco International, her husband’s employer, because he was not on an authorized business trip when he died in August 2004.

According to Sleet’s ruling Daniel Roarty’s fatal accident occurred while he was returning home to Newark, Delaware from Pittsburgh for a trip Kelly Roarty claimed was made so he could meet with production officials at a Tyco plant, but admitted was also partly non-business related.  

Sleet turned away a Tyco request to throw out the suit that argued Kelly Roarty could not seek equitable relief under ERISA Section 502(a)(3) and legal relief under Section 502(a)(1)(B). The court asserted that her allegations could support a remedy for breach of fiduciary duties independent of or in addition to awards she could receive for her wrongful denial of benefits claim.

The case is Roarty v. Tyco International Ltd. Group Business Travel Accident Insurance Plan,D. Del., No. 06-195 GMS, 8/2/07.