United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM J. FELTON
HARTFORD LIFE & INSURANCE COMPANY
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
insurance dispute arises between William J. Felton and
Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company
("Hartford"). Pending before the court is
Hartford's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 19). For
the reasons outlined below, the court will grant
Hartford's motion. The issues have been briefed and no
oral argument is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
case arises from Hartford's June 8, 2016, denial of
Felton's claim for Total Disability. (ECF No. 18-2 at
HLAIC 000006-08). Prior to the initiation of this suit,
Felton worked as a counselor for the Anne Arundel County
school system and was covered under a disability policy
Hartford provided to the Teacher Association of Anne Arundel
County. (Id. at HLAIC 000006). Under the policy,
Total Disability is defined as:
Your disability while covered under the Policy resulting:
(a) from Sickness, disease or Complication of Pregnancy; or
(b) directly from accidental bodily Injuries and
independently of all other causes; which requires the regular
care of a duly licensed physician or surgeon, and completely
and continuously prevents You:
(a) from performing any of Your occupational duties during
the first 104 weeks of the period of Total Disability; and
(b) from engaging, during the remainder of the period of
Total Disability, in any occupation or employment for which
You are fitted by education, training and experience.
(Id. at HLAIC 000091). In other words, a claimant
will not qualify for Total Disability unless their disability
not only precludes them from holding their current position
of employment, but also precludes them from holding that same
position in another workplace. (Id.).
denied Felton's claim for Total Disability because all
three of Felton's doctors "provided an opinion that
there would not be a psychiatric contraindication precluding
or limiting you from working in a different work environment
and none of the providers would restrict you from returning
to work if he were to pursue alternate employment."
(Id. at HLAIC 000007). Hartford concluded that
Felton's condition might prevent him from working in his
current position as a counselor in the Anne Arundel school
system, but it did not preclude him from working as a
counselor in another work environment, and Felton, therefore,
did not qualify for Total Disability. (Id.).
alleges that Hartford improperly denied his claim of Total
Disability. (Compl. at 1). This case is essentially an appeal
from the September 20, 2017, Final Order of the Maryland
Insurance Administration ("MIA"), which affirmed
Hartford's denial of benefits. (See ECF No. 18-9
at HLAIC 000530-33).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (emphases added). "A dispute is
genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.'" Libertarian Party of Va. v.
Judd,718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of Am.,673 F.3d 323, 330
(4th Cir. 2012)). "A fact is material if it 'might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.'" Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Accordingly,
"the mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment[.]"
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. The court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, Tolan v. Cotton,134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014)
(per curiam), and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor, Scott v. Harris,550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007) (citations omitted); see also Jacobs v. N.C
Admin. Office of the Courts,780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th