California

Disabled or Not? Man Files Suit Against Insurance Company

A Corona man says his insurance company has found him to be both disabled and not in the span of less than a year

Walking his therapy dogs might be the most productive thing Keith Laster does all day.

"It's very depressing to not be productive, to not work and contribute to the family," he says.

Laster is disabled. The Corona resident lost his job as a senior construction inspector for the city of Anaheim. Arthritis in his left arm led to complete shoulder replacement — metal rods from his collar bone to his hand.

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Adding to the pain is the life insurance policy he took out with the Hartford, which said if he becomes disabled they're supposed to waive his monthly premium of $123.54. In 2014, the Hartford even acknowledged "you are eligible" for that waiver.

Less than a year later they changed their mind, quoting a doctor who reviewed Laster's case but never examined him. They said "you can lift 10 pounds bilaterally... you can work 15 hours per week, 3 hours per day."

Laster said he felt like "a piece of trash being kicked to the curb."

Laster's job duties included working in the streets, driving and lifting heavy objects. Now taking a cocktail of prescribed narcotics for pain, he can't do any of those things anymore.

"What California says is somebody is totally disabled if they cannot perform the material and substantial duties of their employment," says Laster's attorney, Travis Corby.

Corby says it's pretty clear, and Laster's wife Cammie says it gets worse. When the Hartford ended his waiver for life insurance, she says it stopped his disability payments as well.

"It's hard," she says. "I have to work harder knowing that he's not working."

Laster has now filed a lawsuit.

The Hartford told the NBC4 I-Team: "Our mission is to ensure that individuals received the benefits to which they are entitled under our group benefit policies, as this case is in litigation, we will not comment further."

Laster believes he's not alone, only the first to fight back.

"For them to just pull it out from under me it's not fair," he said.

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