September 3, 2019 / 8:41 PM / 4 months ago

8th Circuit upholds insurer’s decision that worker’s domestic partner was ‘spouse’

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday said Unum Life Insurance Company of America’s decision to award life insurance benefits to the domestic partner of a Land O’Lakes Inc employee who died in a car crash was reasonable, even though the plan directed benefits be paid to his “spouse.”

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a narrower interpretation of the insurance policy pushed by the deceased worker’s mother, Sharon Engle, was perhaps the better one, but Unum’s decision was owed a high degree of deference under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

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