Sun Life Death Benefit & Welfare Plan Litigation

Lewis-Abdulhaadhi v. Union Security Insurance Co., et al., Case No. 2:21-cv-03805-WB (E.D. Pa.)

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Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Defendants Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (“Sun Life”) and Union Security Insurance Company (“USIC”) breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) by continuing to collect life insurance premiums for children who are no longer eligible for coverage until a claim for payment of benefits is made.

Summary of the Claims

The Sun Life Group Policy and the USIC Group Policy provide voluntary dependent life insurance benefits to participants for $10,000 per dependent. Under both policies, dependent children are covered until age 19 or until age 25 if he or she is a full time student. During the time in which a participant opts for dependent life insurance benefits, the cost of the dependent life insurance benefit is deducted from that participant’s paycheck. Under the terms of the policies, once a dependent child no longer meets the definition of a Dependent Child, the participant has the option, under a certain period of time, to convert the coverage to an individual life insurance policy.

The complaint alleges that despite USIC and Sun Life either having record of dependents’ dates of birth or having the right to request dependents’ dates of birth, neither make an effort to determine whether dependent children still qualify for the definition of Dependent Child under their policies. Instead, USIC and Sun Life continue to accept insurance premiums for children who are no longer eligible to be insured under the policy. Once USIC and Sun Life learn that a child is no longer eligible for coverage, which is when a child dies, the premiums are simply refunded to the participant without interest. As a result, a participant continues to pay for dependent life insurance benefits beyond their child’s age of eligibility, loses their opportunity to obtain alternative individual life insurance coverage once their child is ineligible and, in the event of their child’s death, would be denied a claim for dependent life insurance benefits under USIC’s and Sun Life’s policies.

Class Action Allegations

This lawsuit is brought on behalf of the following Class:

All participants in an ERISA-covered welfare plan that is insured by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada or Union Security Insurance Company who had children enrolled in the dependent life insurance benefit program after the age at which the children no longer met the definition of dependent child and the beneficiaries of such participants.

Excluded from the Class are persons who had decision-making or administrative authority relating to the establishment, administration, modification, funding, or interpretation of any Plan funded or insured by a group life insurance policy issued by USIC or Sun Life, including the Merakey Plan or persons who had decision-making or administrative authority relating to the establishment, administration, modification, funding, or interpretation of any other employee welfare benefit Plan to which a USIC or Sun Life insurance policy, contract, certificate, or agreement is offered.

Status of the Litigation

The Complaint was filed on August 25, 2021. Defendants Sun Life and USIC filed their Answer to the Complaint on December 13, 2021.

The Amended Complaint was filed on January 3, 2022. Defendants Sun Life and USIC filed their Answer to the Amended Complaint on January 18, 2022. Defendant Merakey filed its response to the Amended Complaint on January 24, 2022.

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the proposed class or you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:

R. Joseph Barton, Esq. (jbarton@blockleviton.com)
Ming Siegel, Paralegal (ming@blockleviton.com)
Block & Leviton LLP
1633 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 734-7046

Vincent Cheng, Esq. (vincent@blockleviton.com)
Block & Leviton LLP
100 Pine Street, Suite 1250
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 968-8999

Block & Leviton is co-counsel in this litigation with the Garner Firm Ltd. and Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, Esquire.

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