The former chief marketing officer of Duane Morris, who claims to suffer from a “disabling cognitive impairment,” has sued the firm’s disability insurer for refusing to provide benefits nearly a decade after he left the firm.
Edward Schechter filed the complaint against Standard Insurance Co. on July 3 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The lawsuit asks the court to order Standard to pay all benefits due him from the date of his disability, which he claims caused him to leave Duane Morris.
Schechter worked at Duane Morris from 2002 to 2009. According to his complaint, he was a participant in the law firm’s long-term disability insurance policy, and was therefore eligible to receive benefits if a disability caused him to leave his job.
According to the complaint, Schechter suffered a fall in December 2005 and was later diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in January 2008. But it wasn’t until 2009 that he was “forced to leave his position at Duane Morris,” the complaint said, “because he could not perform the material duties of this job with any degree of consistency or dependability.”
The complaint said he was having increasing difficulty with conversations, memory and normal work activities.
When Schechter announced he was resigning his post in 2009, he said he had been thinking of leaving the firm for some time and saw his work there as essentially complete. Then-chairman of the firm, John Soroko, said at the time that Schechter had invented Duane Morris’ CMO role.
He was unable to find a similar position after leaving Duane Morris, the complaint said. He had a consulting practice until 2015, the complaint said, and even tried jobs at Home Depot and Panera, which he was not able to keep. After that, he went through more extensive medical testing and was eventually told that he had a neurocognitive disorder, the complaint said.
In May 2017, Schechter submitted a claim for disability benefits to Standard, but it was denied because of the length of time that had passed since he became disabled. He filed an appeal, which included a medical explanation of why he took so long to submit a claim. That appeal was denied earlier this year, the complaint said.
Schechter submitted another doctor’s report to Standard, which said “Schechter’s condition was present in 2009 but that there was insufficient evidence to make a firm diagnosis at that time.” Standard said in a June 11 letter that it sent the claim file back to the benefits department, the complaint said, and requested additional data.
“The June 11, 2018, letter thus admits that Standard had no evidence to dispute that Mr. Schechter had disabling cognitive impairment, likely due to a parkinsonian disorder … when it sent the appeal denial,” the complaint said.
Standard declined to comment on the complaint. Duane Morris, in a statement, said, “As a policy, Duane Morris does not comment on employees present or past.”