On April 23, 2018, Bloomberg BNA published an article covering McKennon Law Group’s
innovative use of social media monitoring to benefit our client in his lawsuit against Aetna
Insurance Company. In “Aetna Ignored Facebook Posts Showing Man’s Disability: Lawsuit,”
Jacklyn Wille, Reporter for Bloomberg BNA, covers our complaint’s unique use of Aetna’s
social media surveillance in this long-term disability insurance case. The article discusses how
the complaint argues that Aetna improperly terminated benefits in part because it ignored
Facebook posts that are highly supportive of the plaintiff’s disability. The article is posted
Benefits & Executive Compensation News
Aetna Ignored Facebook Posts Showing Man’s Disability: Lawsuit
By Jacklyn Willie
- Lawsuit challenges Aetna’s denial of disability benefits
- Insurer focused on surveillance and not doctor opinions or Facebook posts, lawsuit alleges
Aetna Life Insurance Co. terminated a man’s long-term disability benefits without sufficiently considering a series of Facebook posts showing the persistence of his medical troubles, a new lawsuit alleges.
Michael Ashline, an accounting assistant whose severe inner-ear disorder causes dizziness and nausea, sued Aetna April 20 in federal court. Ashline says Aetna’s termination of benefits relied too heavily on physical surveillance that the insurer wrongly said contradicted his claim of disability. Aetna overlooked both the opinions of Ashline’s treating physicians and the many Facebook posts documenting his condition, he alleges.
Social media monitoring is a growing practice in which insurers or third-party investigators review a person’s online footprint for information relevant to their claimed disability. In the past few years, Aetna, Principal Life, Sun Life, First Reliance Standard, MetLife, and Unum all cited social media postings in the course of denying or terminating an individual’s disability benefits.
Ashline says Aetna used a third-party surveillance company to review his and his wife’s social media profiles. The company allegedly told Aetna their profiles included many references to his symptoms, medical appointments, and “struggles to participate in his family’s daily activities,” along with supportive comments from friends and family referencing his illness.
Aetna failed to acknowledge these posts and other evidence of disability, instead focusing on physical surveillance showing Ashline walking slowly and wearing sunglasses to avoid triggering symptoms, the lawsuit says. Ashline is asking a federal judge to order Aetna to reinstate his disability benefits.
Aetna didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by McKennon Law Group PC.
The case is Ashline v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., C.D. Cal., No. 8:18-cv-00649, complain 4/20/18.
Reproduced with permission. Apr. 23, 2018. Copyright 2018 by The Bureau of National Affairs,
Inc. (800-372-1033) <http://www.bna.com>