Ex-Stuntwoman Wins Spherical In Court docket Battle For SAG-AFTRA Pension & Well being Advantages – .
Former stuntwoman Leslie Hoffman, in her decades-long battle with the SAG retirement plan and SAG-AFTRA health plan, won another decision before the Ninth U.S. Appellate Circle on whether she would be eligible for an occupational disability pension that would give her life health insurance because of the injuries she has sustained during her long career.
The case has moved back and forth between the lower district court and the appeals court since she first filed a lawsuit in 2010 – when the plans denied her pension and health for incapacity – and then in 2015 when the plans took away her pension, which He had received since 2002 that she was no longer disabled and could return to work.
The disabled stunt woman Leslie Hoffman wins another legal battle in a long-standing feud with the SAG pension fund
In their ruling, Circuit Court Justices Andrew Kleinfeld, Richard Tallman and John Owens repeatedly cited the “strange facts in the case” and the “unusual attitude of this case”. The dispute over their entitlement to benefits “has a tortured history and is now on its fourth district judge and third jury of district judges,” they wrote in a judgment published today.
Hoffman was once one of Hollywood’s top stuntwomen and was the first ever to be elected to the Board of Directors of SAG Hollywood and later to the Hollywood Board and the National Board of Directors of AFTRA. She has been twice diagnosed with traumatic brain injury which she believes was the result of too many concussions during her longstanding stunt work. She hasn’t been able to work since 2002, but while the plans recognized that she was disabled, they insisted that it was the result of emotional problems unrelated to her years of stunt work.
After her disability in 2002, she started receiving SAG disability benefits. But after a sloppy investigation, the Plan Trustees found that she had worked and held back for work while collecting those benefits and asked her to repay $ 123,827.50 in benefits she had over a 13 year period received, plus an additional $ 8,457.72 in interest on those payments.
Hoffman filed a lawsuit, and her case has been rattling around in court ever since. However, it turns out that the trustees and attorneys of the plans knew all along that she never worked under the jurisdiction of the SAG during her disability. In fact, .’s own records of the plans received show that it has had no SAG revenue at all other than residuals since 2001.
And while she knew she had no income under the union contract as a stunt performer or coordinator, the trustees of the plans accused her of “having been involved in certain projects as a stunt coordinator in the course of your alleged disability as a stunt coordinator be . ”
In its third decision in their favor, the Circuit Court has now ordered the District Court to reopen the first of their two cases (known as Hoffman I) or to reopen the second case (Hoffman II) and consolidate them and then decide, whether she is entitled to ongoing health benefits. As a result of an earlier partial settlement, the parties agreed that the plans would pay her additional arrears of $ 54,516.67 pending further determination as to whether she was “completely disabled” as defined in the plans.
Hoffman has been applying for benefits under the plans since 2004. In 2010, the plans denied her 2008 application to convert her existing $ 952 monthly disability pension to an occupational disability benefit – and the lifelong health insurance that comes with it – after determining her disability from major depression was not with hers Stunt work connected. After an unsuccessful administrative complaint process, she sued in 2010, questioning the plan’s conclusion that her “total disability” was not caused by her work.
The District Court issued a summary judgment in favor of the plans in 2012, but the Circuit Court overturned that decision after determining that the plans had “denied Hoffman a full and fair review of their coverage” as part of his disability plan.
The district court thereupon issued an investigation warrant against the plans, but expanded the scope of the examination to include all information relating to her disability claim. While in custody, the plans upheld her previous finding that her disability was not work-related and informed Hoffman that they were retrospectively reviewing her eligibility for the $ 952 monthly disability benefit she had received for years.
“Although the plans denied the claim on the grounds that her disability was not work-related,” the Circuit Court justices said in their latest ruling, “the district court subsequently denied Hoffman’s first motion to reopen Hoffman I on January 20, 2015 Rationale from “The case is currently ongoing and the plan appears to have not yet completed the administrative review of whether it is disabled.” The Circuit Court denied her motion to force the District Court to consider the disability issue in February 2015.
On June 19, the plan retrospectively terminated her disability benefit, finding that she had not met the plan’s definition of “completely disabled” since at least December 31, 2004. He requested the reimbursement of all previously paid disability payments plus interest. Hoffman lodged an unsuccessful administrative complaint against that decision and then filed its second lawsuit contesting this retrospective decision. “The district court has again issued a summary judgment on the pension plan, but we have again reversed it,” stated the circuit court judges.
While in custody, the district court found that the plan had misused its discretion in terminating Hoffman’s disability benefits and referred the matter to the plan in October 2019. A few months later, however, the district court issued the ruling set by the parties in favor of Hoffman and later awarded Hoffman attorney’s fees for Hoffman II.
In April 2020, Hoffman filed her second petition to reopen Hoffman I so she could pursue her life-long medical benefit “which for some reason was not resolved in the previous litigation,” the Circuit Court justices wrote. They added :
“The district court has limited the ruling before us on May 1, 2020 to only admitting Hoffman’s application for legal fees for the work in Hoffman I, but denied Hoffman’s application to retrial to determine her entitlement to future health care benefits Disability pension.
“We were informed at a hearing that the retirement plan did nothing while in custody because it paid out all cash benefits that Hoffman believed Hoffman was entitled to and that the plans no longer seek reimbursement of the benefits paid. It appears from the pleadings that the health plan did nothing to assess Hoffman’s entitlement to continued health coverage, considering the case closed. We now believe that given this strange procedural history, it is our responsibility to review the Order.
“The District Court’s general assumption that the plans will one day determine whether Hoffman is completely disabled from her job as a stunt actress and therefore entitled to future health care benefits, contradicts the accelerated timeline within which the plans under the Retirement of employees must act according to provisions of the Income Security Act. It was therefore an abuse of power to reject her request to reopen on the basis of this assumption. The plans have done nothing to assess Hoffman’s pending health plan healthcare entitlement and will do nothing because they feel there is nothing left to decide.
By failing to find the plans, Hoffman had constructively denied Hoffman’s claim to Hoffman’s proposed occupational health care obligation in relation to the occupational disability pension, and the district court was wrong. Accordingly, we are instructing the District Court to reopen Hoffman I or reopen Hoffman II and consolidate the following cases if necessary, and then determine de novo whether Hoffman is entitled to continued healthcare. “
The judges charged Hoffman, represented by Attorney Chuck Fleishman, with repossession, eviction and pre-trial detention.