Portland Or: A bad faith insurance class action lawsuit has been filed against the Chicago-based insurance company Bankers Life and Casualty, alleging they are denying benefits to those who paid for long term health care insurance so they would have security in their old age.
The class action, alleging elder abuse, was filed in the US District Court in Portland by Law firms Williams Love O’Leary and Powers and Cauble and Williams, on behalf of four individuals (two harmed families) who have made claims as representatives of the class. The attorneys estimate there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more elderly Oregonians and their families who could join the suit. The Oregon action is similar to other lawsuits against Bankers Life in other states.
Grants Pass resident Dennis Fallow, a plaintiff if the lawsuit, claims his mother has paid their premiums for years, counting on having support if she became ill. “That time came and all she got from Bankers Life was a cold shoulder, rejection and red tape. It was a total rip off,” he said in a statement to the press.
Fallow’s 79-year-old mother, Katherine Fallow, needed an in-home caregiver when she came home in 2009 following multiple hospitalizations. The family hired a caregiver certified as a home health aide by the State of Washington and an Oregon certified home health aide to care for Mrs. Fallow. Dennis Fallow began submitting the bills for that care to Bankers Life, anticipating payment under terms of his mother’s policy. What followed were several months of wrangling over aides’ qualifications, long delays in communications and denials of payments. Bankers Life eventually made payments in the amount of $11,388, far short of the $51,667 the family paid for Mrs. Fallow’s care. Mrs. Fallow died on July 6, 2011.
In 2011, Grants Pass attorney Christopher Cauble filed a lawsuit against Bankers Life on behalf of the Fallows. He soon learned the Grants Pass family wasn’t alone. “Bankers Life has likely refused long term health care benefits to many, many Oregonians,” Cauble told reporters. “I began hearing about other families with experiences similar to that of the Fallows. What we have in Bankers Life is a company with a history of raising premiums, delaying payments and denying legitimate claims.” Cauble’s findings prompted him to join with Portland attorney Mike Williams and his firm to file the federal class action against Bankers Life on behalf of all Oregon consumers.
In 2011, Bankers Life ranked worst (19th out of 19 companies) in the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ (DCBS) consumer complaint index. In fact, DCBS figures show Bankers Life ranked worst for consumer complaints every year from 2005 to 2011.
The named representatives of the Oregon class action are Lorraine Bates a nd her husband Ehrman Bates, both of La Grande, Or; and Eileen Burk, of Sherwood, Or., and her son David Youngbluth, of Prineville, Or.