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Benjamin W. Glass III & Associates
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Fairfax

  • 3915 Old Lee Highway Suite 22-B
    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: (703) 584-7277
  • Fax: (703) 783-0686
  • This office is open M-F, 9-5.
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Alexandria

  • 1010 Cameron St
    Alexandria, VA 22310
  • Phone: (703) 688-3944
  • xThis is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Arlington

  • 1655 Fort Myer Dr #700
    Arlington, VA 22209
  • Phone: (703)591-9829
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Dumfries

  • 17932 S. Fraley Blvd Suite 400-F
    Dumfries, VA 22026
  • Phone: (703) 988-7607
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Herndon

  • 13800 Coppermine Road 1st Floor
    Herndon, VA 20171
  • Phone: (703) 544-7868
  • Fax: 703.783.0686
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Fredericksburg

  • 1135 Heatherstone Dr
    Fredericksburg, VA 22407
  • Phone: (540) 227-4571
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Lexington

  • PO Box 530
    Lexington, VA 24450
  • Phone: (540)300-2716
  • Lexington attorney Van Hardenbergh graciously allows the use of his office for clients meetings at this location and, with client permission, serves as co-counsel in cases in this area.
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Manassas

  • 10432 Balls Ford Rd. Suite 300
    Manassas, VA 20109
  • Phone: (703) 988-7656
  • Fax: 703.783.0686
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Newport News

  • 11836 Canon Blvd Suite 100
    Newport News, VA 23606
  • Phone: (757) 932-9683
  • Newport News attorney Scott Wash is the BenGlassLaw team member at this office.
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Petersburg

  • 1658 Berkeley Avenue
    Petersburg, VA 23805
  • Phone: (804) 601-1179
  • Petersburg attorney Van Hardenbergh graciously allows us the use of his office for clients meetings in Petersburg and with client permission acts as co-counsel in cases in this area.
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Quantico - Stafford

  • 800 Corporate Drive, 3rd Floor
    Stafford, VA 22554
  • Phone: (540) 358-1371
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Reston

  • 12020 Sunrise Valley Dr. Suite 100
    Reston, VA 20191
  • Phone: (703) 988-7721
  • Fax: 703-783-0686
  • This is a satellite office that is staffed several days a month. Please always call before dropping by!
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Richmond

  • 1506 Willow Lawn Dr. Suite 121
    Richmond, VA 23230
  • Phone: (804) 597-0119
  • Richmond attorney Bob Battle graciously permits us to use this office for client meetings and, with client permission, co-counsels with us on Richmond area cases
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Virginia Beach

  • 4164 Virginia Beach Blvd Suite 204
    Virginia Beach, VA 23452
  • Phone: (757) 302-7527
  • Virginia Beach attorney Kellam Parks graciously permits us to use this office for client meetings and, with client permission, co-counsels with us on Virginia Beach area cases
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Williamsburg

  • 809 Richmond Road
    Williamsburg, VA 23185
  • Phone: (757) 296-0594
  • Willaimsburg attorney Stu Spirn graciously permits us to use this office for client meetings and, with client permission, co-counsels with us on Williamsburg area cases
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Cardiogenic Syncope Long Term Disability Case

ERISA Long Term Disability Case

Type of Action — Insurance

Type of Injuries — Denial of benefits

Name of Case — Confidential v Confidential

Court / Case No. — U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Name of Judge — T.S. Ellis III

Awarded / Remand to Plan Administrator

Plaintiff's Attorney — Benjamin W. Glass III

Other Useful Information — The plaintiff was a public relations executive for a national advertising agency supervising 20 employees in the public relations group and was responsible for business development and client relationships. These responsibilities involved strategic planning and crisis management and frequent travel, often weekly, to meet with key clients. He participated in his employer's group disability insurance plan, which is funded by the insurance company.

In the summer of 1999, the plaintiff began to experience significant fainting episodes and was diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope, a condition involving a miscommunication between the heart and nervous system. He had a pacemaker implanted and returned to work on a modified schedule. He worked 20-25 hours a week upon his return, but his health continued to fluctuate. He began experiencing medical difficulties including sleeping problems, dizziness and headaches due to blood vessel dilation. He began to report a significant deterioration in his health that included the return of frequent migraine headaches, at least one syncopal episode, and complaints of blurred vision.

His cardiologist believed that he would not control the syncope episodes and its associated symptoms without removing as much physical and emotional stress from his life as possible. At his doctors' recommendations, plaintiff left his employment, but sought and planned to return to work on a modified schedule if possible. Three weeks later, his position at his employer was filled and three months later he was terminated.

The plaintiff applied for short-term disability. His physicians recommended that he stop working for 90-120 days to improve his condition. At that time, it was believed his prognosis was good with reduced stress.

The insurance company approved plaintiff's short-term disability benefits and later approved long-term disability benefits.

After leaving his employment, the plaintiff developed a daily routine of light exercise, household chores, and rest. However, after a few months, he was reporting a rise in number of syncope episodes that included blackouts and prolonged periods of dizziness.

In May 2001, roughly 17 months after plaintiff left employment, the insurance company terminated benefits and requested additional information from his treating physicians. They reported that he should not engage in any activity that increases mental stress or requires prolonged sitting or standing, and that he could not sit or stand in one position stationary due to neurocardiogenic syncope. His cardiologist reported that he could not safely and without threat to his health perform the duties of his previous job.

The insurance company denied the plaintiff's various administrative appeals, even though his cardiologist reported that the effect of long-term stress on individuals with his condition could result in some degree of permanent impairment of cerebral function.

The court reviewed the matter on a sliding abuse of discretion standard. The court stated that the review of the insurance company's benefit denial decision should begin with a precise and detailed listing of the essential duties of his former employment. Thus, the insurance company's disability determination should properly have commenced with a listing of the "material and substantial duties" of plaintiff's "regular occupation" so that it might then make a "deliberate and principled" analysis and judgment as to whether he was limited by his neurocardiogenic syncope from performing each of these occupational duties.

The court noted that none of the insurance company's denial letters included neither a sufficiently precise and detailed listing of his occupational duties or the requisite deliberate and principled analysis of his ability to perform those duties. In the absence of such analysis, any analysis of the claimant's self-reported activities or his lack of frequent syncope episodes can not be relied upon as dispositive.

The court remanded the case to the insurance company because the current record was inadequate to assess whether the insurance company appropriately exercised its limited discretion in denying plaintiff's application for disability benefits. The court instructed the insurance company to detail each "material and substantial" duty of his former position and then conduct a "deliberate principled reasoning process" to determine whether the fact that he suffers from neurocardiogenic syncope limits his ability to perform each of these activities.

Note: Benjamin Glass is the author of Robbery Without a Gun, Why Your Employer's Long-Term Disability Policy May be a Sham.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney