MetLife Deductions at Heart of CA Class Action

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. improperly applies certain deductions to deflate the monthly benefits it owes disabled California employees, a class alleges in court.
     Lead plaintiff John Voshall notes that he had to go on disability retirement after a workplace accident as electrical compliance lead inspector for Palo Alto, Calif.
     In Voshall’s case, the collapse of a hinged manhole caused his severe injuries and total disability, the April 8 complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges.
     Voshall says the disability retirement benefits to which he is entitled from the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS, include “a retroactive payment to the date of his first eligibility for such benefits.”
     MetLife alleged waited “years” to advise Voshall on Dec. 11, 2014, that it was applying certain reductions to his PERS disability retirement benefits.
     “Specifically, MetLife has impermissibly applied offsets for: (1) cost of living adjustment (‘COLA’) amounts added to retirement benefits and/or Social Security benefits; and (2) retirement benefits that represent contributions made by employees to retirement plans,” the complaint states.
     Voshall says the COLA amounts that MetLife applied retroactively to his benefits were “in excess of the COLA benefits actually received by plaintiff.”
     “In doing so, MetLife claimed a right to reimbursement of past benefits in the amount of $282,690.96, reduced plaintiff’s monthly disability income benefit under the Palo Alto policy retroactively and on an ongoing basis, and confiscated the reduced benefit amount going forward to repay the claimed past offset amounts,” the complaint states.
     Voshall says this practice of applying “other income” reductions is part of a policy by MetLife to improperly reduce disability-income benefits it pays under group long-term disability income policies issued to California public entities.
     He wants a judge to bar MetLife from “asserting any right to reimbursement by virtue of its conduct in delaying its assertion of any offset rights.”
     The class also seeks damages, restitution and an injunction for breach of contract, bad faith and violations of California’s unfair competition law.
     It is represented by Robert Gianelli with Gianelli & Morris, and by the Ernst Law Group of San Luis Obispo.

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