Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation Bureau of Insurance 124 Northern Avenue Gardiner, ME 04345 May 25, 1999
Re: Form A Filing Of Provident Company, Inc. and Hugh O. Maclellan Jr. Pertaining to the Acquisition of Control by Merger of UNUM Life Insurance Company of America.
Dear Superintendent Iuppa,
I wish to express my concerns with the series of events which have transpired in the last two weeks which have led me to seriously question your impartiality and your understanding of your duties to protect the policyholders and stockholders of both UNUM and Provident Insurance Companies and to protect the Public.
I believe most of the people in this country would share my perception that when a company sells disability insurance to the lay public, it is expected and required by law that they reasonably and fairly investigate and pay all legitimate claims in a timely fashion. It would be expected that they not engage in deceitful, delaying or oppressive tactics or wrongfully deny legitimate claims on pretenses in order to force ill and impoverished claimants to sue for benefits. We would expect that the State Departments of Insurance would be sure these laws were enforced.
If an insurance company can make a profit by selling a legitimate product and fairly honoring their claims, they are doing a good job. If a company has a history of not only not honoring legitimate claims but of having thousands of dissatisfied policyholders and claimants, that would be an indication that they are not doing their job, no matter how much profit they are making. Filing a lawsuit to try to collect benefits is a sure sign of a dissatisfied customer.
As you know, because many of us have complained repeatedly to the Maine Bureau of Insurance, and thousands of lawsuits have been filed against UNUM for wrongful denials of disability benefits, there appears to be a great deal of dissatisfaction among policyholders. Very few of these cases have made it to court, as you know, but in those that have, several judges have rendered scathing opinions about UNUM's claims tactics and corporate mentality. Other cases settled and I happen to know that many of these claimants were literally forced into unfavorable settlements sealed by confidentiality agreements by utter financial and emotional desperation and fear. That UNUM paid these claimants anything at all is clearly an admission that UNUM feared the exposure of their tactics that a trial would bring.
Even without the merger between UNUM and Provident (whose claims handling I've been told by Provident claimants may even be worse than UNUM's) there are serious safety concerns to UNUM's policyholders, future customers and stockholders by UNUM's behavior. If you are concerned about policyholders you should have investigated our concerns and done something about it long ago. If you are concerned about investor confidence, than I must tell you, the story of UNUM and Provident's behavior is building to a point where the media will tell the story and investor confidence and sales will plummet.
In the Amended Notice of Hearing, the purpose of the hearing is clearly stated in several of the points to be the protection of UNUM's policyholders, shareholders and the public.
However the very first thing you did was to deny intervenor status to George Ginther, a Provident claimant and experienced insurance salesperson with tremendous knowledge and insight into the negative aspects of Provident's empire. You declared that only UNUM's policyholders could present evidence and act as intervenors. That, in itself, is counterintuitive, if you are looking for evidence of poor dealings on the part of Provident as most UNUM policyholders would not have had experience with Provident's claims handling.
You thereby effectively eliminated the best source of the information you claim you are interested in.
Then you declared, via Judith Shaw Chamberlain, that "UNUM's claims handling practices are not at issue in this proceeding and will not be considered by the Superintendent."
You authorized some kind of advocacy panel made up of government officials to purportedly present and protect the public's issues but you have members of the public willing and able to speak for themselves. However you continue to insist that we defer to this Advocacy panel.
You did grant me intervenor status in what is increasing looking like a sham hearing. Then you put irrational constraints on myself and the other intervenors by making it next to impossible for us to view the documents provided by Provident and UNUM by declaring that "intervenors have had access to all public materials since the inception of this proceeding" despite the fact that our intervenor status wasn't granted (because we didn't know we had this right) until the discovery deadline was almost over.
In order to gain access to confidential documents "intervenors must identify what specific documents they want access to." You know that policyholders would have little idea what to request. So far I have not received the docket sheet I requested on May 18, 1999 that would identify what documents have been submitted. I have also not received the Confidentiality statement that you have require us to sign in order to see confidential documents. Then you decided that only attorneys shall be allowed access to confidential information knowing full well that only one of the 6 intervenors of record has an attorney and even then you stipulated that Mr. Berry's attorney may not discuss confidential information with his own client. I find this personally insulting to my integrity. I have never disseminated information that I promised would remain confidential. I am a doctor and I fully understand the meaning of the word confidentiality, and I believe that goes for Drs. Bussell and Bussell and Dr. Grahek as well. Furthermore, how can we possibly be able to discuss issues related to Provident insurance company when we are denied access to the documents.
Then you reversed your position that Mr. Berry could not represent a "class" of policyholders when it became apparent that other policyholders did have something to say. As we have all said to you before, we each have different evidence, different concerns, different approaches, and cannot be assured that by choosing one representative from among six persons that we don't know that our concerns will be addressed. Furthermore, none of the six persons have volunteered to represent the rest in this matter. We have also made it clear that by requiring consolidation we will "as a consequence of consolidation, be unable to make an adequate presentation of the party's position." (PUC Rules, Ch. 110 § 724. The intent, I believe, for your doing this is to dilute the importance of our concerns, to shorten the presentations, to minimize certain embarrassing questions that the Applicant's executives may have difficulty answering, and to keep important concerns by policyholders from becoming part of the record of thes e proceedings. As if that wasn't enough, you had the audacity to threaten us with exorbitant civil fines that may not even be within your jurisdiction to impose.
Like it or not, Superintendent Iuppa, both Provident and UNUM's claims handling tactics are vitally important to the safety and peace of mind of both companies' policyholders, future customers, the public and to the long term financial stability of both companies, merged or not. How an insurance company handles claims is pretty much the sole concern of policyholders. It is obvious to those of us that are victims of unethical claims handling that the situation can only worsen with a merger since neither company is showing any signs of reforming.
I have collected data from dozens of claimants of UNUM and some from Provident who were not only intimidated and persecuted themselves, but believe their doctors and their families were harassed. All these claimants did was file claims for disability benefits with the approval and consent of their employers and their doctors. These people are not stupid. They, like myself, have thoroughly read their policies and are certain they are entitled to the benefits.
We understand exactly what is going on here. Several people have gone to desperate lengths to "prove" their claims. One UNUM claimant whose doctors were repeatedly harassed and whose doctors' reports were repeatedly ignored finally sent UNUM a sample of the bloody fecal matter from his colitis which at times keeps him housebound. His claim was paid shortly thereafter. A Provident claimant suffering from manic-depression, in desperation after several months of torment by Provident's claims handlers, sent Provident a letter written in her own blood. Her claim was also paid shortly thereafter. This woman admitted to me that she feared being driven to suicide, and if she was, she was going to do it on the steps of Provident's headquarters in Chattanooga. These are not the acts of satisfied customers!
At least two UNUM claimants involved in litigation for their benefits did commit suicide. I believe their survivors were awarded settlements by UNUM to cover up what really happened.
Because of the discovery limitations, arbitrary requirements, and threats of fines you have ordered, you are ensuring that issues of VITAL importance and interest to UNUM policyholders and shareholders and the public will NOT be presented nor considered in this hearing regarding whether two insurance giants should be allowed further consolidation and power. You seem to care not that BOTH companies have been engaging in massive fraud and claimant abuses.
Your behavior in this matter, and your department's behavior, in manipulating these proceedings is highly suspect. Claimants are currently contemplating acts of civil disobedience if the government authorities appointed to investigate and rectify these matters don't start doing their jobs.
This letter is my official objection, Superintendent Iuppa, to the way in which you and your colleagues are conducting and manipulating the evidence and witnesses in the upcoming merger hearings. I don't know whom you are purporting to be protecting because your behavior is certainly not in keeping with protecting the interests of the policyholders of either UNUM or Provident Companies, nor by extension the shareholders of these companies or the public.
Judy Morris, MD
Faxed to all intervenors and the following parties: Jason Adkins (617) 742-8280 Consumer Attorney representing the one intervenor who has an attorney Alessandro Iuppa (207) 624-8599 Maine Superintendent of Insurance William H. Laubenstein, Esq. (207) 626-8518 Advocacy Panel Judith Chamberlain, Esq. (207) 626-8518 Maine Attorney General Shelby Baetz (713) 287-2100 I'm not sure who this is but someone who represents UNUM or Provident Molly Boast, Esq. (212) 424-8500 Attorney for UNUM or Provident J. Michael Davis (207) 770-4375 UNUM Representative __________________________________________________________________ Subject: Re The Bill of Rights Petition Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 16:52:03 -0400 From: "Patrice Franklin"Subject: UNUM's Latest Garbage
To: email@example.com Dear Fellow Signer of the Internet Petition for Patients' Rights: On behalf of the many national organizations that have joined together in the campaign for patients' rights and high-quality health care, we thank you for adding your name to the 25,000 other people who signed the online petition for patients' rights in managed care. We also wanted to update you on the issue, and remind you to talk to your family, friends and coworkers, and to spread the word about the need for patients' protections in managed care. Urge them to sign the national petition at www.familiesusa.org/pbr . We're happy to receive hard copy petitions which we will add to the on-line petition. These should be sent to: Patient's Bill of Rights Petition c/o Families USA 1334 G St. NW Washington, DC 20005 This push for managed care protections stems from the concerns that most of us have that the quality of our health care is being compromised. We simply don't have the peace of mind of knowing that the HMOs and managed care organizations have the quality of our health care at the top of their priority list. We're concerned that their drive to show a good bottom line to their shareholders might take precedence over the quality of health care for our families. We're worried about their limiting our access to the specialists we need; to the best treatment options and drugs; and to our doctor if he or she leaves the plan while we're being treated. We need to be sure that medical decisions are being made on the basis of best practice rather than the lowest cost. And, we want to know that we can appeal decisions we don't like to a neutral body outside the HMO, and that we can hold the HMO accountable if they make a serious error (just as we can with others who deliver our health care). We all are working hard to push the Republican leadership in Congress to pass a managed care consumer protection law. We'd like to report that we're making substantial progress, but it's not the case. The public's with us, and our national and local organizations have been working hard to make the case to policymakers. But, unfortunately, the HMO and insurance industries are spending whatever it takes to block legislation, and those in the leadership of Congress are responding to them. There has been some action in one of the Senate committees that has jurisdiction over these issues. The committee passed patients' right legislation, but it's a fake patient protection bill that excludes almost all of the reforms we're supporting. (The amendments, introduced by Democratic members of the Committee, were voted down along party lines.) The bill that was passed by the committee does not deserve our support. One of our biggest concerns is that our opponents on Capitol Hill will pass a bill that they call "The Patients' Bill of Rights," but which is nothing more than a distant echo of what we're pushing for. This, we believe, will be our biggest challenge: making the case that the bill our opponents move in Congress is "impostor" patients' rights legislation, pretending to address consumers' concerns while not fundamentally protecting consumers. We don't have the resources to go up against those of the industry. We understand that there may have to be some compromises to pass legislation. We understand that there's a need to wrestle with objections and to come up with reasonable solutions that a majority in Congress can support. But we are not going to stand by and pretend that, just because something is called "patients' protections," that it does the job. We will not support watered-down HMO reforms that are protections in name only. So please continue to spread the word. And thanks again for joining us in this effort on behalf of all our families. Please let us know if you have any questions. You can write to me, Jeff Kirsch, at firstname.lastname@example.org . To Your Health! Jeff Kirsch, Field Director Families USA 1334 G St., NW Washington, DC 20005 Ph: 202/628-3030 Fx: 202/347-2417 Email: email@example.com Web: www.familiesusa.org __________________________________________________________________
I think we've discussed this before. Despite the insurance companies claiming they are NOT practicing medicine, not only are they PRACTICING IT by making or denying diagnoses and treatments, they are also doing it INTENTIONALLY BADLY!!! Judydoc
I thought this issue may be of direct interest to this list. UNUM Life Insurance Company of America has added a new clause to some disability insurance policies. It will become standard practice if they get away with it. According to this clause, all claims based on "self-reported" symptoms will be denied. UNUM has published a number of "whitepapers" on this. The "bottomline" is that medical doctors and psychologists are not qualified to diagnose a patient through observation and analysis. Unless the doctor is able to confirm a diagnosis with "objective tests" it is assumed that the claimant is either lying or exaggerating (and the doctor who knows the patient can't tell).
If UNUM gets away with this, they will be able to deny benefits to all claimants who have conditions that require diagnostic skills to identify. Any mental health problem that can not be clearly determined with validated Neuropsychological Tests would also be denied.
The HMO industry has already picked up on this concept. My HMO tried to prevent me from getting essential surgery on the basis of my "self-reported symptoms," claiming my primary care physician did not know what he was doing (the HMOs own doctor). Fortunately, I had enough out-of-network benefits to get the proper tests done to confirm what my primary care physician had already determined with his excellent diagnostic skills. The many months of delay for this surgery cause numerous complications that will cause a much slower recovery. Legal trickery is being substituted for common sense.
Subject: Your Insurance Premium Dollars AT WORK
I just want you UNUM policyholders to know that Pierce/Atwood - UNUM's Maine law firm is hard at work protecting "your" interests. They are spending lots of YOUR money objecting to practically everything the intervenors and I are doing and to every bit of evidence we wish to present at this hearing. They have now engaged in a smear campaign against George Ginther. He's the man whom we are trying to use as an expert and who is financing attorney Jason Adkins campaign to stop this merger.
They are dredging up any legal action against Mr. Ginther or his insurance agency (there aren't very many) and faxing them to the rest of the Intervenors. Once again however, they fail to examine their OWN HOUSE FIRST. If being a defendant in a legal action is implied guilt, let's count how many legal actions UNUM has been a defendant in!
They never change their strategy. I'm appalled, ashamed to be in a country that tolerates this kind of duplicity. Their strategy is in keeping with the KISS principle. It's called "Smear the opposition and always get in the last word!" Of course they have highly paid lawyers, paralegals and secretaries working round the clock to do it.
All I can say is whatever Mr. Ginther's faults, and we all have some, this man is my hero. UNUM is trashing him, his life and his insurance agency but he called me last night to give me a pep talk.
Today I heard another interesting UNUM story. Hopefully I'll have more details later. This involved a 40ish year old fellow ill with CFS. No one believes him because he "looks healthy" but he fainted after only a few minutes on the tilt table. So he received several "depression" diagnoses in his records before he finally found (and got his HMO to approve) referrals to doctors who know about and can diagnose CFS. Meanwhile, of course UNUM has denied him (or paid for a while on a mental diagnosis), but now the state is coming after him for child support despite the fact that he has no income. He's being threatened with a jail sentence if he doesn't cough up money he doesn't have. A good friend of his who is healthy is trying to help him and contacted me after they got evaluated by Dr. Nancy Klimas and she told them to call me. I wish I could help. I suggested that so far the only strategies that have definitely had positive outcomes, without lawyers and prolonged legal wrangling were the claimants that sent in feces and letters written in their own blood. Both of those people got paid without attorneys.
My only consolation is that UNUM/Provident must be SCARED or they wouldn't be spending so much time and money on lawyers and law firms in their attempts to prevent us from speaking. Maybe if we continue speaking out long and loud enough, eventually someone will listen!
Judydoc Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 13:59:52 -0400 Subject: More
UNUM is objecting to Mr. Ginther being able to see their confidential documents because of one lawsuit against him, and he got caught at the Canadian border with undeclared merchandise.
OK, so according to UNUM these infractions and allegations impugn Mr. Ginther's ability to review their confidential documents but with THOUSANDS of LAWSUITS AGAINST THEM, including many verdicts against them and some scathing opinions from judges UNUM REQUIRES US TO ALLOW THEM TO SEE OUR MEDICAL RECORDS, PSYCHOLOGIST'S RECORDS, FINANCIAL RECORDS AND ANYTHING ELSE THEY WANT. EXCUUUUSE ME!!!
WE have a HUGE DOUBLE STANDARD GOING ON HERE! It's just a shame these criminals can't spend some of that money that's going to high priced attorneys cleaning their own house (and I don't mean by further covering up their crimes) by PAYING THEIR CLAIMANTS!
They talk about the "animus" Mr. Ginther, myself and the other intervenors have for UNUM. What about the obvious animus and distain UNUM feels towards their own policyholders? As I've said many, many times, I would have NO ax to grind with UNUM, or anyone else, if UNUM had not forced on me the AX and the GRINDSTONE.
We were considered honest, upright citizens all the while we were paying premiums. But as soon as we filed claims for CFS we became frauds, malingerers and mentally ill and our doctors suddenly became incompetent too.
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 13:48:52 -0400 Subject: Confirmation that Maine's last Superintendent of Insurance went directly to a job with UNUM
One of you found the old posting listed below. I had recently read at Maine's Bureau of Insurance Website that Superintendent Iuppa had actually started his 5year appointment prematurely due to the departure of the former Superintendent. I'd also heard independently from a Maine resident that someone high up in the Bureau had been given a cushy job at UNUM. I didn't know if it was the head of the Department. I thought there were laws against going directly from a regulatory agency into a supervisory position of the industry you are regulating, like a 2 year grace period or something. If this isn't CORPORATE BRIBERY, I don't know what is????
God help us. Judydoc
New Pa. Commissioner
Provident Mutual Life General Counsel M. Diane Koken has been nominated by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to succeed Linda Kaiser as Pennsylvania insurance commissioner.
Ms. Koken has been vice president and general counsel for Berwyn, Pa.-based Provident since 1995 and has worked in its law department since 1975.
In Maine, Superintendent of Insurance Brian K. Atchinson said he will resign his post, effective August 29, to take a position with Unum Corp. He will join Portland, Maine-based Unum as second vice president, government relations, focusing on international, government and regulatory affairs.
Under Maine law he is barred from involvement in Unum matters before the Maine Insurance Bureau.
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 23:32:51 -0400
Subject: Paul Revere/Prov. Claimant does good
The following is from Penny Salomon, a disabled trial attorney from California with an ERISA case. After she won in court, Provident tried to stay the judgment pending appeal. She says she won this round. I can't access this page (computer problems) so I hope you folks can. Judydoc
JUST WANTED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A COPY OF THE LATEST ORDER ON MY CASE FROM THE CENTRAL DISTRICT IN CALIFORNIA AGAINST PAUL REVERE ON AN ERISA POLICY. I THINK THIS IS A UNIQUE ISSUE OF LAW. THE ORDER IS SCANNED ON A WEBSITE AT
IT TAKES FOREVER TO LOAD BUT FOR ME IT WAS WORTH WAITING FOR... IF ONLY THE COMPANY WOULD PAY SO QUICKLY.
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 10:29:20 -0400 Subject: Does UNUM have any SATISFIED CUSTOMERS
In all the material I've read in the last 2 1/2 years, I have only seen ONE interview with a customer. It was some surgeon who thought his lump sum settlement was just nifty-keen. I know they must be paying some claims because I'm not hearing from people with "traditional" disabilities. But those of you who report that you are getting paid were nonetheless less than happy with your treatment.
How come they don't interview some of their satisfied customers? In the hearing the section on "Impairment of Policyholder Interests" is being given by Elaine Rosen and some other executive. They aren't calling any claimants as witnesses. Don't the ever do customer satisfaction surveys? They must at least have an accounting of the number of complaints. (Figure since they have thousands of lawsuits - there are tens of thousands of complaints and irate letters like the ones we've all been writing). Of course their "Complaints Specialists" read your complaint and only tally the ones THEY DEEM pertinent. I wonder what happens to the rest of them...."document retention program" (euphemism for paper shredder).
Well, for what it's worth, here's my Prefiled Testimony. I'll send out John Bussell's in the next message. You may be the only people who ever get to hear it.
I've got the claimant's list almost ready for posting. I want to XXXX the names so it can be posted on the Internet. It's about 70 pages long. If anyone wants a copy, let me know.
Here's my testimony that I sent it to them - YOU BE THE JUDGE ----- Judy Morris, MD
261 Bumstead Rd. Monson, MA 01057 (413) 267-3606 IN RE: FORM A FILING OF PROVIDENT ) COMPANIES, INC. AND HUGH O. ) MCCLELLAN, JR. PERTAINING TO ) PREFILED TESTIMONY THE ACQUISITION OF CONTROL ) OF CONTROL OF UNUM LIFE ) INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA Docket No. INS-99-1
As a designated intervenor in the above matter, I hereby present the following testimony in opposition to the merger of UNUM Life Insurance Company of America and Provident Companies. I have coordinated and discussed my testimony with the other intervenors so that I will not reproduce topics which they plan to discuss. Although Superintendent Iuppa ordered us to pick one representative, there is not one person willing to undertake this job and the extra costs and duties associated with it. Therefore, unless Mr. Iuppa plans to take away my intervenor status because an unwilling person will not come forward to represent my interests, I am willing to continue to represent myself.
My name is Dr. Judy Morris. I am a policyholder and customer of UNUM since 1990. I have an individual own-occupation policy from UNUM and a group own-occupation policy that was a benefit at my hospital. I have been practicing Emergency Medicine from 1988 to 1996 and therefore my occupation was that of an Emergency Room Doctor as defined in both of these policies at the time I became disabled by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in October 1996.
First I wish to re-iterate my previous objections to the manner is which Superintendent Iuppa is managing these hearings. As Intervenor John Bussell put it, there appears to be a great effort to push this merger through without delay. In fact, most of us have only had a chance to participate as intervenors since late April. If this merger is approved, a merger between two multibillion dollar, multinational corporations, it will have resulted from a period of investigation far less than what either UNUM or Provident devote to the denial of a single disability claim and far less than the years it takes to develop the subsequent litigation. The deadline for submission of my testimony is 4 days from now. I have still not received, much less had time to read, review or even scan all of the discovery materials or even a good portion of them. There is obviously no time for me, as an ordinary person with no staff, no resources and not much time, to bring in witnesses or obtain the kinds of "evidence" a legal c ase requires. Despite that I have been obtaining evidence of UNUM's illegal claims tactics for the last two years.
I am here to discuss UNUM's claims handling, integrity, and customer satisfaction from the viewpoint of the customer. Despite the Superintendent, UNUM's and the Applicant's protests, UNUM claims handling clearly falls within the four issues Mr. Berry has been granted permission to address and most certainly within the eight topics mentioned in the April 29, 1999 Amended Notice of Hearing signed by Superintendent Iuppa. Numbers 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 clearly indicate that the purpose of this hearing is to PROTECT UNUM's POLICYHOLDERS AND THE PUBLIC. I will discuss how UNUM's claims handling and corporate policies show a disdainful attitude towards their own customers. I will discuss how UNUM's pursuit of profits in the late 1980's led them to sell high priced policies such as mine that they had no intention of honoring. I will discuss UNUM's claims handling by way of example of myself and numerous other policyholders and claimants who have appealed to me to help them. The Advocacy Committee and others will be addressing the issues of Provident Company's claims handling. It should be self-evident that when two companies with extremely questionable claims handling, corporate policies that clearly put profitability ahead of policyholders, secretive documents, confidentiality agreements and untold numbers of dissatisfied customers want to merge, they are not thinking in terms of increasing service to the policyholders of either company. By extension, short term profits made by illegal and unethical claims tactics will have long term negative consequences for shareholders as well.
It is with some apprehension that I reveal the names of these claimants and their stories but most of them have trusted me to do whatever needs to be done to expose UNUM's criminally fraudulent claim denial tactics and forced litigation. However, despite the fact that there are Federal Laws against tampering with witnesses in government investigations, based on my prior dealings with UNUM, the Maine Bureau of Insurance, Superintendent Iuppa, and other government officials, I am still concerned that by revealing the names and stories of these victims, I may be causing them further harassment at the hands of UNUM. However, and I have made this clear to all, I strongly feel that one of the reasons UNUM's tactics have been so successful for so long is the fear which they instill in their victims that coerces these victims into silence. Fear of harassment, fear of financial loss, fear of emotional upheaval, fear of litigation, fear of harassment of their treating physicians, and the fear of loss of benefits some of these people desperately need to obtain medical treatments and avoid homelessness.
The Conning and Company study Reinventing Individual Disability Income Insurance: The Long Road Back, 1996 states that in response to "documented..poor financial results of the industry" "tactical and structural changes were needed." "Subsequent financial results in 1993 and 1994 were worse than even we had expected. Only in 1995 did industry results (or at least results for some of the major companies) show evidence of stabilizing, and perhaps improving." This theme of financial difficulty particularly in certain high benefit groups runs through both UNUM's and the insurance industry's literature for the last several years. I will show you that the insurance company euphemisms "tactical and structural changes" as well as the beefing up of what are called "claims management units" are no more than illegal and unethical attempts to deny or terminate payment of legitimate claims by misdiagnosing claimants, intentionally misrepresenting policy provisions, intentional delays blamed on fax and mail service, unreasonable and legally unenforceable definitions of the words "disability" and "proof", and forcing ill claimants into costly, emotionally wrenching litigation IF they are lucky enough to be able to find and afford an attorney.
Insurance exists for one purpose - to pay claims, just as the major purpose for the car industry is to provide cars that run. If an insurance company does not pay claims fairly, fully and promptly, they are not doing their job, just as if a car company was willing to sell and accept payment for a certain percentage of cars that didn't run. Some of us were willing to pay more for "Cadillac" policies that insured us from disability in our own occupation. Just as a Cadillac company can't receive payment for a Cadillac and deliver a Moped, insurance companies can't sell "Cadillac" policies and then change the policy provisions when delivery comes due. In the situation with UNUM, although they are continuing to pay some claims, they seem to have singled out for wrongful and fraudulent denials and terminations, certain diagnoses, certain occupational groups, and claimants with high benefit levels. Even small numbers of fraudulent denials in these groups result in large savings to the insurer. This savings is t hen taken out of the policy reserves and applied to the profit margin. These savings to the insurer are made at the expense of the peace of mind and security policyholders had been promised and peace of mind and security that policyholders thought they were paying premiums for.
First I wish to say that despite what seems to be a small number of claimants on my list, 156, as compared with the thousands of policyholders with claims for benefits with UNUM, I was able to find these people one by one, and without too much difficulty by Internet postings, phone calls, word of mouth and other avenues. Because of the great efforts taken by UNUM to avoid disclosing these persons names and to intimidate people into silence, my list is actually a pretty substantial cross-section of claimants who are dissatisfied with UNUM. UNUM has consistently refused even in litigation, to reveal the nature or extent of policyholder dissatisfaction. Another obstacle to ascertaining the true extent of the criminality of UNUM and Provident's claims handling is the Confidentiality Agreements which many claimants are forced into signing under duress. I have a copy of a Provident Confidentiality Agreement (Exhibit 1) that shows the extent they will go to in order to whitewash their behavior towards policyhol ders. They even state that claimants required by the courts to release information by a court order must also notify the insurance company IN ADVANCE of the release of this information. And the threat for non-compliance with this order is that the company will demand repayment of any money the victimized claimant was able to get as part of a settlement AND the threat of additional attorney's fees. This type of "gag" agreement would obviously have a chilling effect on the willingness of claimants to come forward even if they had been forced under tremendous duress to sign this agreement and accept settlements that were less than they were entitled to. And without UNUM's cooperation, we have absolutely no way of knowing exactly how many of their claims are settled under these or similar conditions.
I'm going to briefly go down my list. A list of claimants whose stories I know enough about to make them meaningful to you and that taken in summary shows UNUM's pattern and practice across the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. You will see that far from peace of mind, we have suffered great distress and torment at the hands of our own insurer. What is even more surprising is the lengths and expense that UNUM goes to in order to inflict that torment upon us and then cover it up.
Exhibit 2 - Claimant's stories
Exhibits 3 & 4 - Sworn Affidavits from my treating physicians
These 150 stories illustrate certain patterns. Although UNUM tried very hard not to use the same tactics too many times to avoid establishing a pattern it is obvious that they have a plan. In another insurance company lawsuit, General American, a jury was so outraged that they awarded a disabled dentist $58 Million dollars in punitive damages because his attorney also showed a company scheme to delay or deny benefits by a variety of the same mechanisms as used by UNUM.
Many of the claimants UNUM is targeting have diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, pain syndromes and other disorders which have been legitimized and characterized by reputable medical researchers within the last decade. However it is UNUM's intention to attempt to misdiagnose these people as frauds, malingerers, or mentally ill to avoid payments. Many of UNUM's policies have severe limitations for mental illnesses. A document written by a UNUM doctor Dr. Carolyn Jackson, the Southern Regional Benefits, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Management Program, Exhibit 5, clearly states UNUM's motivations where she says "UNUM stands to lose millions if we do not move quickly to address this increasing problem. The subjective nature of CFS leaves us highly exposed to the self-diagnosis of claimants, some of whom take advantage of doctors and the entire insurance industry." She goes on to mischaracterize people with a diagnosis of CFS as "highly paid professionals slipping into self-imposed oblivion" and UNUM considers CFS "Neurosis with a new banner." It is UNUM's intention, despite the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to state that CFS is a mental illness or malingering and that doctors who diagnose this disease are incompetent and being taken advantage of by their patients. But scarier still, and more importantly, in the context of this hearing is the following statement "eventually expand this project to be used in all 'subjective' claims."
Ladies and Gentlemen, from my point of view as a doctor, if denying and terminating claims for fraudulent reasons, harassing claimants, misquoting their doctors and medical reports, and the other tactics used are successful in "subjective" claims, they would be just as successful in any claim. Many of the people with these supposedly subjective claims have years of documented history, clinical evidence, immunologic, radiological and neuropsychological tests confirming their disorders that UNUM simply refuses to accept as proof.
To tell a person with disabling chronic fatigue syndrome that they just aren't motivated is no different than making the irrational claim that just because Christopher Reeves still has his arms and legs, he should get up and walk.
And what UNUM is doing is not just chance or mistakes or even incompetence. In July 1997, I wrote a letter to all of the members of UNUM's Board of Directors, sent by Certified Mail return receipt. Exhibit 6. I notified them that I felt UNUM's tactics were unethical and illegal. In response I got a threat from one of UNUM's attorneys that legal action would be taken against me if I continued posting on the Internet. Exhibit 7. After I asked UNUM to prove me wrong, they never threatened to take legal action against me again. Exhibit 8. However as far as I can tell, they also did not investigate or address my allegations. Why? Because they knew exactly what they were doing.
In summary, the only job UNUM does, it is not only not doing well, but it is doing it intentionally illegally, unethically and immorally in a percentage of its cases designed to increase UNUM's profitability at the expense of the policyholder. From what I've heard Provident is doing the same thing, and possibly worse. In fact, I have to introduce this letter from Provident regarding one of their policyholders, Virginia Mitchell. Exhibit 9. Mrs. Mitchell's claim got paid shortly after she wrote Provident a letter in her own blood. I think from now on when someone asks me how to get a claim paid, I will suggest this as a successful tactic. This merger must not be allowed and both UNUM and Provident need some serious internal and external investigation of their claims handling. It does not make sense to allow two racketeering organizations that have shown no sign of reforming to join together to form a more powerful organization. Not if you have any interest in protecting policyholders and the public.
Thank you for allowing me to give this testimony.
Judy Morris, MD
June 8, 1999
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 10:32:03 -0400
Subject: John Bussell's prefiled testimony for the hearingSTATE OF MAINE DEPARTMENT OF PROFESSIONAL AND FINANCIAL REGULATION BUREAU OF INSURANCE IN RE: ) ) FORM A FILING OF PROVIDENT ) PREFILED TESTIMONY OF COMPANIES, INC. AND HUGH O. ) INTERVENORS JOHN AND MACLELLAN, JR. PERTAININT TO ) LETANTIA BUSSELL THE ACQUISITION OF CONTROL ) BY MERGER OF UNUM LIFE ) INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA ) ) Docket No. INS-99-1 ) INTRODUCTION
On May 17, 1999 by Order of the Superintendent of Insurance of the State of Maine, John Bussell and Letantia Bussell (Busssells) were granted intervenor status pursuant to 5 M. R. S. A. § 9054 in the above captioned matter. No restrictions upon the scope of intervention were ordered. Intervenors, nevertheless limit themselves to the 8 items on the Amended Notice of Hearing dated 4-29-99. Bussells served a timely request for discovery which has not been responded to by Applicants or ruled upon by the Superintendent. A separate Motion to Compel answers has been filed. Bussells have consulted with the other intervenors and conclude the following:
1. Other intervenors have knowledge of the Bussells interests and prefiled testimony.
2. Other intervenors have been consulted regarding Bussells discovery requests and prefiled testimony.
3. Other intervenors do not have objections to Bussells discovery requests or prefiled testimony.
4. Other intervenors have not duplicated Bussells discovery requests or prefiled testimony.
5. Other intervenors have coordinated efforts with Bussells intervention.
6. Other intervenors interests do not coincide with Bussells.
Bussells have only recently (last 5 days) been given access to very small portions of intervenor Berry's First Discovery Request, which are not pertinent to Bussells interests. Bussell was not able to "conclude discovery" as the Superintendent has ordered since Bussell was not permitted to even start discovery. Furthermore, even though Bussells executed the required confidentiality agreements, Superintendent sustained Applicants objections to any access to "confidential" information.
Bussells have made every attempt to work in good faith openly and honestly with all parties. It has been discouraging that the Superintendent has publicly given his approval to the merger before any intervention or hearings, and the Applicants have also publicly represented that they have approval from Maine before any hearings commenced. Nevertheless, under the disadvantage of being deprived of meaningful discovery and threatened by severe punishment by the Superintendent, Bussells wish to offer the following testimony.
John Bussell, M.D. was a practicing cardiac anesthesiologist for 20 years in Los Angeles, with primary responsibility for pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, as well as lung and heart transplants. He has been medically unable to practice his specialty since late 1992 due to severe degenerative arthritic disease in his thoracic spine and complete heart block for which he is totally pacemaker dependent. Letantia Bussell, M.D. is a practicing Dermatologist in Los Angeles since 1979. Both have insurance with UNUM since 1983, and Provident since 1987. Letantia Bussell has never made a claim to these insurers. John Bussell has never made a claim to UNUM, but was a claimant to Provident's "old block of business." As a result of litigation initiated by Provident, the Bussells have gained direct knowledge and insight into the inner workings of Provident Companies.
BUSSELLS CONTENDS THAT APPLICANTS ARE NOT QUALIFIED BY CHARACTER, EXPERIENCE AND FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO CONTROL AND OPERATE UNUM LIFE, OR CAUSE UNUM LIFE TO BE OPERATED, IN A LAWFUL AND PROPER MANNER.
Bussells will show that:
1. Provident has a history of systematically violating, disenfranchising and alienating an entire class of policyholders (own occupation non-cancelable disability income insurance policies sold during the 1980's-the "old block of business").
2. Provident sold these policies, "old block of business," with the intention of never paying benefits. This is fraud.
3. Provident engaged in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate their own stock price to the personal advantage of the Applicants. Provident took a suspicious "one time only change to earnings" in 1993 thereby depressing stock prices. Applicants then granted themselves stock options at these reduced prices. Applicants then engaged in the fraudulent scheme to deny, delay and otherwise obstruct the rightful payment of claims to an entire class of policyholders. This resulted in a decrease in "expenses" to the company, with a resultant increase in "earnings." The increased "earnings" resulted in increased stock prices from which the Applicants have personally benefited by selling their options and making millions.
4. Provident disguises and misrepresents the existence of millions of dollars of liabilities arising from the "old block of business," thus misleading policyholders and the investment community about the true nature of its business and accounting practices.
5. Provident has admitted publicly, albeit in disguised form, this plan of deception.
6. Applicants have engaged in illegal, dishonest and unethical insurance practices. This has been found to be a pattern of conduct by courts of law.
7. Applicants have and are engaging in a cover up scheme to avoid scrutiny of their own illegal practices using personal character assassinations upon those who might question or expose them.
8. Applicants have lied and presented false and misleading testimony to policyholders, governmental regulatory officials, the investment community, Federal and State Courts, and this Bureau of Insurance.
Having been denied reasonable access to discovery, including any evidence to contradict the above, Bussell will rely upon:
1. Public documents published by Applicants
2. Public records of Applicants
3. Governmental filing of Applicants
4. Court fling of Applicants
5. Court rulings and findings of Applicants
6. Court records of Applicants
7. Files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from many of the States Insurance Commissioners
8. Affidavits and public files of individuals who have made claims to Provident Bussell will testify that Applicants are not qualified to control or operate UNUM Life in a lawful and proper manner, and indeed will bring to UNUM a legacy of dishonesty and deceit coupled with a pending avalanche of undisclosed liability from the "old block" of business which will jeopardize UNUM Life, UNUM policyholders and the economy of the State of Maine. The Applicants are not to be trusted.
Assuming intervenor is allowed to testify, this entire presentation, without questions or interruptions, will take less that one hour of the hearing time.
Respectfully submitted June 7, 1999
Enc: Letter to Honorable Angus King dated June 3. 1999
cc: Service list
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 15:08:43 -0400
Subject: NO big surprise
UNUM just filed a Motion with Superintendent Iuppa suggesting that NONE of the Intervenors be allowed to testify at all in the merger hearings. They even have the order all written up and awaiting his signature. (Why doesn't he just give them a rubber signature stamp?)
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 23:42:03 -0400
Subject: Extreme Measures
Here's the latest on Judydoc's exploits. It's now Tuesday evening. I'm still in Maine. After they escorted me out of the hearing yesterday, some big brute of a guy told me that if I came back I'd be arrested. So I spend today resting and regrouping. I did have my car, with it's anti-UNUM slogans and signs, taken over and parked at the hotel this afternoon.
After careful consideration I decided to go back to the hearings tomorrow and risk getting arrested. After all, I've not been charged with any crime. I have not been served with a restraining order. As far as I can tell my Intervenor status has not been revoked so I have a RIGHT to be there.
What could they arrest me for?
Then I watched the evening news. It appears Superintendent Iuppa decided to wrap up the hearing this afternoon!
I guess I'm just going to have to MOVE to Portland. By the way, once again this is a lovely and very friendly city. Almost every person I spoke to had their own insurance horror stories.
I did get my picture and some of the story in the papers. Check it out.
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 19:20:25 -0400
Subject: Why I did it
Op-Ed (This will probably not be printed in the Portland Press Herald but I did drop a copy at their office)
Two multibillion dollar insurance companies are conducting merger hearing in Portland, Maine this week. A "disgruntled" policyholder manages to disrupt the hearings by dropping a harmless toy gun at the feet of the paranoid head of one company. James Orr, III, UNUM's CEO, comments that he thought the act was "a little extreme." The policyholder, Dr. Judy Morris, was escorted out of the hearings and told she would be arrested if she tried to return to the building. No charges were filed.
I am that policyholder. Let me tell you what drives a person to extreme measures. What the newspapers did not tell you is how my life and the lives of other UNUM and Provident policyholders dramatically changed for the worse after they filed claims with these company. The results of my two year investigation have brought me into contact with scores of policyholders. All were advised and supported by their doctors in their decisions to apply for the disability benefits they were told they were entitled too. All had gone though difficult periods trying to continue working while suffering from various illnesses. Many, like myself, experienced inexplicable delays, lost papers, harassment of our doctors, irrational excuses for claim denials, and other "claims management strategies." Some like myself were followed by armed Private Investigators for days or weeks. A few others even related disturbing incidents such as the ones that happened to me where someo ne tried to run me off the road and the investigator's reports for that period were totally false, and I was chased for 45 minutes in my car by another PI on another day who also lied about it in his reports.
Yes, it leads to paranoia, anxiety, fear, despair. Several claimants committed suicide. Many went bankrupt and lost their homes.
For two years I have endeavored to get the media to report this. I have written evidence of fraud by UNUM's"Doctors" and claims adjusters. I have sworn statements from my treating physicians refuting the "diagnosis" U NUM's doctors made of my condition. I have a written ruling from the Maine Board of Medicine that UNUM's Dr. Jane Pringle was indeed "Practicing Medicine" when she misdiagnosed my illness as a mental condition. Her partner in crime, a Dr. Peter Mirkin, who made the same misdiagnosis, does not even hold a medical license. It's been over a year. Why hasn't the Attorney General filed charges against "Dr." Mirkin for practicing medicine without a licen se?
I filed a lawsuit. It's tied up in the courts. I have no income. I'm exhausted. I'm spending all of my time gathering evidence and learning how to be my own lawyer.
I applied for and was granted Intervenor Status to present evidence against the merger. Then I, along with the other six intervenors, was threatened with fines up to $5000 if we didn't pick one person to speak for us all within 3 days. Then all of our testimony was stricken because we didn't comply with that ultimatum and because our testimony wasn't written in question and answer format.
The last straw was when I attempted to make a statement at the public session. The Superintendent tried to shut me down there too. He told staff to turn off the microphone and told the court reporter to stop recording. I gave the statement anyway and then I "dropped the gun" on behalf of the UNUM claimants who committed suicide or died of their illnesses while trying to get UNUM to pay their benefits. So here I sit pondering. Will they really haul me off in handcuffs when I walk into the hearings tomorrow? What will they charge me with? Will I end up in jail because I filed a claim for insurance benefits two years ago and decided to fight (nonviolently) for my rights?
The only weapon I carry is the most powerful weapon of all - The Truth.
Judy Morris, MD
Postscript: After careful consideration I had decided to return to the hearings on Wednesday. The only person who was in any danger from my toy gun stunt was myself! (barring one of the idiots shooting at me and missing). No charges were filed against me. I threatened no one. In fact the toy gun fell on the floor and I never touched it. It was to represent how UNUM and Provident are killing claimants. I don't think the big brute had any grounds to tell me I would be arrested. In fact as far as I could tell, I was still an intervenor. When I got up to give my speech (which I'll post on the next E-mail), Superintendent Iuppa and Assistant Attorney General Judith Chamberlain told me I couldn't talk during the public session unless I withdrew as an Intervenor. I told them I was NOT withdrawing but I would still give my speech. I asked them if they were revoking my Intervenor status and they said "no." Then they told the court reporter to stop recording and ordered the micro- phone turned off. I continued to talk. Then UNUM's attorney got up and tried to shout louder than I was talking. Eventually Iuppa said I could give my speech and had the microphone turned back on and the court reporter start over. But I knew they would do to me what they did to George Ginther - strike the testimony from the record retroactively on some technicality. That's why I pulled the stunt. I mean business.
I wasn't even sure if that would even work, and of course I have no idea how they will try to spin it. But when I got led out of the room, there were a dozen reporters and TV cameras now interested to know why I did it. (By the way, for a long time UNUM has been telling people who inquire about what is written on the Internet that it's written by people with mental illness.....i.e. I'm the one they are referring to. They have come right out and used the term "crazy" to describe me to other lawyers in the past.)
Almost every person I talked to in the next two days in Portland gave me positive feedback. One person even said that one newshow reported it as being humorous.
Anyway as I said I decided to see if they really would arrest me. On what charge? I was still and Intervenor. I had a right to be there. I would not have a gun, fake or otherwise, when I returned. There were no charges filed and no restraining order. Would they really haul me away in handcuffs. Unfortunately because they had deprived the Intervenors of the chance to give testimony, they ended the meeting on Tuesday. So when I went back on Wednesday, the hearings were no longer going on.
I did come home to find a new settlement offer from UNUM. They are now offering me my full two years worth of benefits on my group policy as a mental illness. So if they are now offering me that, how do they explain why they only offered me less than a year's benefits initially, and then denied the claim except for one month when I refused the settlement? They also made the usual threat that if I won in court, I would just be entitled to benefits due and subject to any examinations they wish to conduct. They are nothing if not consistent.
By the way, another funny thing they said during the hearings. Jason Adkins went to the hearings to tell them he was filing for reconsideration on the Injunction to delay the hearings because the Intervenors were denied meaningful participation. True to form, UNUM's attorney stood up and said something like "Well, Mr. Adkins, you are here now. You are participating."
Anyway, I'm pooped. And I'm NOT sorry I did it, so if you have any inclination to bitch me out - please keep it to yourself.
JudydocDate: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 19:23:48 -0400 Subject: The Speech I gave (despite their attempts to silence me) Judy Morris, MD The other Intervenors boycotted the hearing and sent in similar letters accusing Iuppa of conducting a "kangaroo court." Judydoc 261 Bumstead Rd. Monson, MA 01057 (413) 267-3606 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Alessandro A. Iuppa Superintendent of Insurance Maine Bureau of Insurance State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 Fax: (207) 624-8599 June 13, 1999
Dear Superintendent Iuppa,
Thank you for granting me intervenor status to testify in the upcoming UNUM/Provident Merger hearing Docket No. INS 99-1. However, had I known that you were going to abuse your power to deprive me of the right to present important testimony and that you were going make this intervenor status a mockery and a sham, I would not have bothered. I spent considerable time and energy, in the extremely short period you allotted us to prepare meaningful testimony that certainly SHOULD be considered in the hearings. Your behavior in this matter, in depriving myself and the other intervenors of Due Process and the Right to Be Heard by denying all of our requests and motions and now even our testimony, on technicalities, is clearly an abuse of power, and evidence of undue influence by UNUM and Provident.
If these two companies are so certain of their honesty and integrity they should have NO FEAR OF HONEST FEEDBACK FROM THEIR CUSTOMERS. Instead of assisting in this, or at the very least remaining neutral, you have used every opportunity to confuse the issues, made the process impossible for us, and even went as far as intimidating us with threats of exorbitant fines.
I fail to be appeased by the recommendations of your so-called "Advocacy Panel" (which appears to have been set up in advance specifically to usurp and subvert true intervenors from participating in this hearing) that a survey of customer satisfaction be done long after the merger occurs. There are still tens of thousands of non-can, own-occ policies in the hands of UNUM's customers. I fail to see how this merger will improve their satisfaction when they innocently file claims for their disabilities, when UNUM and Provident's corporate mindset and attitude towards claimants has not changed or, if anything, has changed for the worse. Victimized claimants understand the true meaning of the euphemisms used in the industry and in these hearings, such as "aggressive claims management" and "best practices" really referring to any way you can get rid of a permanent or expensive claim, whether through lowball buyout, misdiagnosis, harassment, extortion and gag clauses. None of us wants to "return to work" more than I do and my work ethic is clearly evidenced by the amount of work I am putting into this claim. My chronic illness unfortunately results in a disability that precludes me from returning to my former occupation without endangering myself and my patients! I will not jeopardize my patients and myself and go against the recommendations of my physicians just so YOUR SHAREHOLDERS can profit by not paying my claims.
The entire tone of these hearings is about nothing but profit and selling more policies. I have heard NOTHING so far that can convince me that UNUM has ways of ETHICALLY returning people to work that the medical profession is not already engaged in. If anything, based on my experiences and those of the people who have related their experiences to me, UNUM's handling of our claims increased our stress and workload, and ruined our finances to the point where any chance of recovery was, in fact, diminished.
I was deprived of due process when UNUM denied my claims unfairly and fraudulently and rubber-stamped their denial during the appeals process. I'm being further denied due process and my rights as a citizen to speak out against this company by your actions with regards to this hearing.
The closest comparison to what is going on here comes from the Declaration of Independence:
"When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government….The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…."
This document goes on to describe the same series of obstructions of Justice, attempts by these two companies and the Superintendent of Insurance to ignore the laws of the States and the Country, to engage in Mock Trials and Sham Proceedings, to continue to allow insurance companies to rob customers of premiums and to deprive claimants of benefits. Those who attempt to fight for their rights find themselves further deprived of Trials by Jury through abuses of the legal system, misrepresentations of laws, and "tort reform."
The Object appears to be that insurance companies be allowed to establish their own arbitrary rules for which contracts they shall honor, how common words are to be defined, and to engage in behavior that harms the very persons they purport to be protecting all in opposition to the plain language of the Federal and State laws that govern insurance.
As the declaration continues:
"In every state of the Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury."
Just as the colonists felt that "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people," UNUM and Provident, by their behavior as Tyrants and collusion with government officials in inflicting harm on their policyholders, and then going to great lengths to cover up and hide that harm are certainly not worthy of continuing in a business that serves the Public.
It is already common knowledge that some members of the insurance industry consider themselves at war with the desires and needs of the American People, as evidenced by the words of Trent Lott in October 1997. By your behavior in this you have shown yourself to be "deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity" with the policyholders and public you are sworn to protect.
And while I will stop short of declaring war on you, UNUM and Provident, as that denotes a violence that is not in my nature, I hope and pray that with the shreds of justice left in our system, and the concerted, diligent, and persistent efforts of others like myself and the other Intervenors, we will bring justice to bear on you and your corrupt Empire and you will be made to answer for the defiance of the foundations of justice upon which this country was founded.
I, along with the other Intervenors, are therefore Boycotting this hearing as meaningless and a sham, since you have made it patently clear that I will not be allowed to address the meeting, nor have my concerns considered by the decision makers.
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 19:18:09 -0400
Subject: Portland Press Herald Article (Sorry about the bad link yesterday)
Here's the story from the Portland Press Herald. There were no pictures with the on-line version. The paper version basically just showed a "security officer" (in a regular suit and I walking out together). It wasn't very dramatic, just out two heads talking to each other. He was a large man. I had kind of a surprised look on my face.
Of course I crashed at 1:30 pm today and I'd still be asleep but I had a few phone calls at 7:00pm (no, the reporters are not calling for more information).
Tuesday, June 15, 1999
Most Unum divisions to stay
By DEAN LUNT , Staff Writer
© Copyright 1999 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
While layoffs will still occur at Unum Corp., the company does not plan to relocate anymore full departments out of Portland following its merger with Provident, according to a Provident executive.
Thomas R. Watjen, chief financial officer of Provident Companies, said that plans for the organizational structure of the merged UnumProvident are now "very specific" and Unum's investment division is likely to be the only full department that leaves Portland.
"We see no material adjustments to the activities now residing in Portland, Maine, other than the investment division," Watjen said. Watjen's comments came Monday during the opening day of state hearings into the planned merger between Provident and Unum to create UnumProvident. Technically, Provident is acquiring Unum requiring the hearings to take place in Maine and not in Tennessee.
Superintendent of Insurance Alessandro A. Iuppa must decide whether to approve the merger after considering its effects on such things as policy holders, competition and financial stability. He has up to 30 days to make a decision, but Unum and Provident executives hope to receive word by June 30.
The first two hours of the hearing were set aside for public comment, but only three people testified and one of them was escorted out by security.
The first, George Eagan Ginther, opposed both the merger and the way Iuppa has handled the hearing process. A group of opponents have unsuccessfully attempt to delay the hearings objecting to several of Iuppa's rulings.
However, Ginther refused to accept questions. His comments were not part of the record and will not be considered.
The second, Judy Morris, pulled a stunt that involved a toy gun.
Morris, a former emergency room nurse in Massachusetts, has been a vocal critic of Unum since she was denied a disability claim in 1997. She wore a T-shirt defined UNUM as "Unethical. Nasty. Underhanded. Mean." Morris attacked both Unum and Iuppa. She compared Iuppa to a British king during the colonial period and accused him of holding "mock trials and sham hearings."
"You have used every opportunity to confuse the issues and make the process impossible for us," she said.
At the end her speech, Morris said she had a gift for Unum Chief Executive Officer James F. Orr III that she was going to offer in memory of some dead friends.
She bent down and took a folded T-shirt from her purse. When she unfolded it a toy gun fell to the floor.
The room sat momentarily stunned while Morris, who quickly said it was a toy, walked toward Orr holding up the T-shirt. Security then rushed down, grabbed the toy gun and escorted Morris out of the room.
Orr called the incident "disconcerting."
"It sounded light when it hit the floor. It didn't sound metallic. But you never know," he said.
Judith Chamberlain, serving as counsel for insurance regulators, said she did not know they would file charges.
Following the morning excitement, William Laubenstein, serving as counsel for the independent Advocacy Panel, spent hours questioning executives from Unum and Provident.
Laubenstein said among his concerns were anecdotal evidence about that Provident sometimes was too aggressive in getting people back-to-work, and the financial soundness of the merger.
During questioning, executives provided vague answers about the merger's specific effect on Portland and Unum.
So far the companies have revealed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they intend to eliminate through layoffs, early retirement and attrition about 1,575 of its 13,800 worldwide jobs. Hundreds of job cuts are expected to come from Unum.
However, executives also said they expect to hire several hundred employees in the claims department over the next year or so. People in claims typically deal with the customers regarding the processing of any disability claims.
Robert Broatch, chief financial officer for Unum, also revealed that even before the Provident merger, Unum considered its operating costs too high and its organizational structure too inefficient. Unum executives were already planning to cut those costs.
That would likely have translated into job cuts.
Broatch estimated that about two-thirds of operating costs for an insurance company are tied to people.Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 23:19:19 -0400 Subject: How Superintendent Iuppa rewrote history - the Decision and Order of the Merger Hearings in Maine
Here's the high points of Superintendent Iuppa's Decision and Order dated 6/18/99, with my comments in brackets and asterisks.
1. *** [First note that the notice of the merger hearings was only posted in the following newspapers] - five daily papers in the State of Maine, the ASIAN EDITION of the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times of LONDON.
2. From the Decisions and Order "The Superintendent received additional requests for intervention from Dr. John Bussell, Dr. Judy Morris, and Dr. Letania Bussell on May 12, 13, 14, and 18, 1999. Requests were received from Debra L. Fisher and Dr. Steven Grahak on May 18, 1999. All five requests were granted. In granting the requests, the Superintendent ordered the Intervenors to coordinate their efforts and make single, comprehensive filings. The coordination was required in order to avoid repetition and undue delay."
*****[Here's what the Superintendent's order ACTUALLY SAID:
"May 21, 1999 "Gentlement and Ladies: "It has come to my attention that all intervenors have failed to comply with the Orders requiring intervenors to designate a representative on or before 12:00 Noon (edt) on May 21, 1999. Although some of the intervenors have out-standing requests for reconsideration of my Order, that does not absolve any intervenor from complying." "Please be advised that all intervenors are now considered to be in violation of the Orders requiring designation of a representative. The Intervenors are hereby given until 5:00 pm (edt) Monday, May 24, 1999, to designate one representative to complete discovery and present evidence at the hearing. If a representative is not designated, I will instruct my counsel to initiate enforcement actions pursuant to 24-A.M.S.R.A. Section 12-A(1)(c) that provides for civil penalties of up to $5000."
"Respectfully, Alessandro A. Iuppa, Superintendent"]
******[Obviously merely an idle threat made to intimidate us since none of us complied and no fines were ever levied.]****
3.****[ As you know we were all told that our prefiled testimony was not going to be admitted, except for extremely limited participation by Frederick Berry's attorney Jason Adkins. Letter dated May 27, 1999 from Iuppa states "Mr. Berry, Dr. Morris, Dr. Grahek and Dr. John Bussell were admonished for their continuing failure to comply with the Superintendent's May 19th Order relating to their need to designate an individual to coordinate their efforts. The next procedural deadline in this proceeding is the June 7, 1999 deadline for filing of prefiled testimony. Notice was provided to the Intervenors participating in the Prehearing Conference, and through this Prehearing Memorandum is given to Dr. Letantia Bussell and Ms. Fisher, that a continuing failure on June 7, 1999 to comply with this Order of the Superintendent requiring coordination among the intervenors will result in nonadmission of testimony on behalf a noncomplying intervenor. Footnote: This potential sanction relates on to Dr. Morris, Dr. Grahek, Dr. and Dr. Bussell and Ms. Fisher. Mr. Berry was required to designate witnesses prior to the May 19, 1999 Order of the Superintendent and has complied with that requirement."
***[Drs. Grahek, Bussell, Ms. Fisher and I had, by this time spoken, and agreed to "coordinate" our testimony such that none of us was going to be reproducing information of the others. However we each still maintained a right to speak for ourselves. In fact Ms. Fisher was too sick to participate at all and was going to let me speak for her on UNUM's claims handling practices. Dr. Bussell and his wife were working together on Provident's claims handling practices. And Dr. Grahek wished to cross-examine witnesses, which I did not wish to do.]***
***[I believe there was a further memorandum (which I can't locate now) stating that the prefiled testimony we had each submitted was not going to be allowed because a) we hadn't picked one representative, and b) it wasn't in question and answer format.]****
****[After all these denials and ultimatums, it certainly appeared that none of us, except for the limited cross-examination allowed to Fred Berry's attorney was going to be allowed. Even Fred Berry's expert witnesses has their testimony stricken because the prefiled testimony wasn't complete due to the fact that they had not had time to examine all the records. So we all agreed to stage a "boycott" refusing to participate when it was obvious that we would not be allowed to speak or submit our testimony anyway.]***
****[As you know, I went to Maine and gave a "non-Intervenor" public statement, despite Superintendent Iuppa having the microphone turned off and telling the Court Reporter to stop reporting and having one of UNUM's attorneys trying to outshout me. I then pulled the gun stunt and was escorted out of the hearing by security and told that if I came back I would be arrested.]***
****[Jason Adkins briefly talked at the beginning and advised the Superintendent that the Intervenors were boycotting and he was there only to advise the panel that he was filing a court order for Reconsideration of the Injunction he had filed 3 days before]****
Here's Iuppa's final version in the Decision and Order related to the above issues:
"None of the Intervenors, personally or through counsel or other representatives, appeared at or participated in the hearing. Footnote: Dr. Judy Morris appeared during the public comment period and gave an unsworn statement but left the premises prior to the evidentiary portion of the hearing."
"At the hearing held on June 14 and 15, 1999, the Superintendent accepted evidence and arguments for the Applicants and the Bureau of Insurance Staff Advocacy Panel. The Intervenors voluntarily chose not to present any testimony or documentary evidence at the hearing. Nonetheless, the Superintendent entered the prefiled testimony of Intervenors Berry, Bussell and Morris into the record as hearing officer exhibits in order to have some of the information produced by the Intervenors in the record."
"No credible, sworn testimony or evidence that calls into question the qualifications and integrity of the individuals who will operate UNUM- Provident has been presented."
And in a later footnote related to whether the merger would have detrimental effects on UNUM's policyholders "Dr. Morris read an unsworn statement into the record during the public comment portion of the hearing, but declined to be placed under oath or to be subject to cross-examination. She also was not present at the appropriate time in the hearing to aver to her prefiled testimony for reasons described elsewhere in this decision. While unsworn comments may be placed on the record of proceeding, they may not serve, under Maine law, as a basis for decision by the Superintendent."
*****[This statement is another outright lie. It had been my intention right from the start to present a sworn statement. Due to the fact that the Superintendent tried to prevent me from speaking at all, I was never asked, nor did I refuse, to be placed under oath. And, obviously, I couldn't be cross-examined because I'd been told by some huge thug, that if I returned to the building, I'd be arrested!]*****
4. ****[The issue of UNUM's claims handling was not actually even addressed by the Superintendent. However repeated reference was made to a letter signed by Judith Shaw Chamberlain on May 20, 1999, that "UNUM's claims handling practices are not at issue in this proceeding and will not be considered by the Superintendent" whenever I tried to introduce evidence or document requests relevant to UNUM's claims handling.]
5. Interestingly enough, the Superintendent's own so-called Advocacy Panel in their statements said, according to Iuppa's own report "On the other hand, Counsel for the Bureau of Insurance Advocacy Panel, in his opening statement, noted 'the intervenors have some doubts about any benefit to policyholders from this proposed merger, and the Advocacy Panel believes considerable work needs to be done, particularly by Provident Life, in the way that complaints and claims are handled and policyholders are treated. The panel is concerned that the needs and rights of policyholders may fall victim to the vigorous return to work philosophy developed by Provident Life and to be the cornerstone of the UNUMProvident's integrated claims operation. In particular, the Panel wonders whether return to work plans may require seeking appropriate treatment that has not been recommended by the claimant's care providers and is not covered by a claimant's health insurance.'
An analysis done for the Bureau of Insurance by Arthur Anderson also noted "several areas of concern with aspects of Provident's compliance program with respect to market conduct and claims issues." ****[Note that in Arthur Anderson's official reports, they mentioned several times that they had been hired to perform only a 'limited scope review' and that certain aspects of even this limited scope were incomplete because they had not received pertinent documents.]****
So due to Iuppa's refusal to HEAR anything he didn't want to hear, he concluded "no substantial evidence was developed at the hearing which would support a finding that the merger would be detrimental to policyholders in terms of UNUM's ongoing ability to fulfill its contractual obligations to policyholders."
Ultimate Iuppa's recommendations are that Market Conduct Studies be done LONG AFTER THE MERGER and that the companies develop claims procedures and appeals procedures manuals.
6. ***[Interestingly the copy of the Superintendent's ruling that was sent to me was REDACTED (certain things blacked out). The blacked out parts appear to relate solely to UNUM's and Provident's net income and assets and costs of the merger. Why would this be secret???]***
In case anyone is interested: NOTICE OF APPEAL RIGHTS
"Any party to the hearing may initiate an appeal within thirty days after receiving this notice. Any aggrieved non-party whose interests are substantially and directly affected by this Decision and Order may initiate an appeal within forty (40) days of the issuance of this decision."
JudydocDate: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 22:56:33 -0400 Subject: Several Lengthy Posts
You've been mighty quiet lately. I'm finally recovered from my very severe relapse of CFS. I was quite despondent, desperate and depressed for a while. I missed the deadline for returning to UNUM their interrogatories and document production requests which I finally got off in the mail today (10 days late). Meanwhile, when I picked up my mail later there was threat from them that if I didn't return their interrogatories and doc. Prod. requests they were going to file a Motion to Compell.
Meanwhile I had a telephone conference for an hour with another law firm that claimed they were really interested in the case. After the call I sent them a box of documents in the mail. They made it sound like the decision was up to me. Well, true to form, they called me a few hours later (at least they didn't wait weeks to months like other firms have)to tell me they decided the case was too expensive and their firm too small to take it on a contingency.
I'm heading up to Maine tomorrow. On Friday there is going to be a hearing at 8:30 am Maine district Court regarding UNUM's restraining order they have taken out against me basically ordering me not to "stalk" their employees or go on their property and to stop "harassing" them.
If I happen to get any chance to defend myself, and the judge gives a damn, here's the speech I hope will convince him that my actions were a RESULT of UNUM's HARASSMENT of me, and that I pose no danger to them. Although I pretty much expect that no matter what I say, the judge will give UNUM whatever it wants, in keeping with the current pattern of injustices by the Maine Government and courts (i.e. the merger hearings).
Here's the speech. This may be the only place you will hear it.
For two years, while attempting to get UNUM Insurance Company to pay my disability benefits I have conducted an exhaustive investigation of them. Webster's Dictionary defines a Racket, as in Racketeering, as "any method of exploitation for money ranging from illicit business, and gambling schemes to an organized extortionary ring operating by use of violence, with hired legal protection and bribery of politicians." I have been attempting to get the evidence I have gathered into a court of law which I feel will prove these allegation, but it is very time consuming, expensive and exhausting.
James Orr and his company and the employees that do his bidding are attempting to avoid the emotional consequences of their crimes by having "hired legal protection" and forcing me to communicate only with their "hired legal protection."
I assure you, your honor, even though I was mentally and physically exhausted and unable to resist this "irresistible impulse" to do something distasteful and outrageous, I have not crossed the line into doing anything that would endanger anyone but myself. I felt 100% confident that no one was likely to catch anything from the dried excrement of my healthy 6-week old kittens by mere casual contact. (I submit a picture of the kittens).
Furthermore, when Roger Liska submitted a sample of his bloody diarrhea to UNUM, they did not take legal action against him. Here is an affidavit stating what he did and why. I also submit a letter written by Provident describing how a claimant wrote them a letter in her own blood. Virginia Mitchell and Roger Liska's claims got paid and neither company took legal action against these people.
When I pulled the toy gun stunt at the merger hearing, the only one in that room in real danger was me if their bodyguards had pulled their concealed weapons. Unless, of course, they also couldn't shoot straight. I am being pushed to the edge by what can only be described as institutional abuse, compounded by government cover-ups. For example the recent coverup of the diversion of millions of dollars by the CDC that Congress had appropriated for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research that was not used for that purpose and the recent sham merger hearings. Just as abused spouses and oppressed citizens can reach the breaking point, so did I. (Here is an accurate newspaper report of what happened at the merger hearings. I threatened NO ONE. I didn't even touch the toy gun. Then my actions were whitewashed by the Superintendent of Insurance in his official report of the hearings).
UNUM has absolutely NO evidence that anyone is in any imminent danger from me or that I have any intention of engaging in any of the activities they wish to restrain me from. Nor do I plan to waste my time and energy "stalking" anyone. And I can't afford to hire private investigators to do it for me as UNUM does. Your honor, these are 6 videotapes their Private Investigators took of me over a 4 week period. They caught me driving my car, running errands, and even resting. UNUM had no legitimate rationale for having these PI's, who by the way, DO carry guns, follow me around and videotape me, except for harassment and intimidation purposes. Furthermore I believe their PI's went over the line in their efforts to terrorize me but with the legal system the way it is, I will probably never have the opportunity to prove my suspicions.
In Lee Ingalls v Paul Revere Life Insurance the Appeals Court of North Dakota upheld a $3 Million dollar punitive damage award for emotional distress and mental anguish in the wrongful denial of an insurance claim. Judge Justice Meschke upheld the opinion of William F. Hodny with the statements quoting "Because a primary consideration in purchasing insurance is peace of mind and security it will provide, an insured may recover for any emotional distress resulting from an insurer's bad faith. Jarchow v. Transamerica Titles. Ins. Co., 122 Cal. Rptr. 470, 486 (Cal. App. 1975). "An insurer's bad faith breach of its duties to an insured is likely to cause mental anguish; It is inconceivable that a layman, unaccustomed to the courtroom and fearful of the entire judicial process, who is also subjected to financial pressures from a refusal of an insurer to discharge its commitments, will not be subjected to stress the precise effects of which are difficult to measure in exact terms but which nevertheless, are prese nt. 16A John Alan Appleman and Jean Appleman, Insurance Law and Practice $8878.55 p. 442 (Rev. Vol. 1981) And UNUM went much farther than just denying my claims with their so-called investigation. They attempted to disrupt my relationships with my treating physicians, defamed me to my former employer and more.
In actuality I'm the one who is in mortal danger. The mindset of this company is such that they think only in terms of profit/loss ratios. I've talked at least three people out of suicide that were in litigation with UNUM for what sounded to be legitimate claims. One ultimately committed suicide. UNUM's fraudulent claims denial tactics, although supposedly meant only to increase UNUM's profits, would and are driving ordinary people to extremes and desperation.
However if UNUM would like to continue to file frivolous actions against me, harass me, and force me to come back to Portland, they will be giving me more than ample opportunities, and justification, for acting out on the inevitable irresistible impulses that will result from my mental anguish, emotional distress, exhaustion, frustration, and despair.
So, your honor, if you feel like aiding and abetting this emotional abuse, side with them. If you feel, as I do, that citizens are being deprived of justice due to the endless delays, expenses and aggravations of the current civil justice system, please give UNUM a stern warning and let me go home in peace.
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Created: July 22, 1999
Last Updated: May 28, 2000