Squillante v. Cigna Corp.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Civil Practice

New York Law Journal

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Judge Shira Scheindlin

Squillante was an independent contractor for Illinois-based State Farm. Delaware's Life Ins. Co. of N. Amer. (LINA), a Cigna subsidiary, issued a policy under which Squillante filed a long-term disability claim in April. After Cigna and LINA denied coverage Squillante sued in state court for a declaration that he was "disabled" under the policy. He alleged Cigna's, LINA's and State Farm's breach of contract, as well as deceptive business practices violating New York General Business Law §349. District court remanded suit—removed by LINA under diversity jurisdiction—to state court. It rejected LINA's claim that the value of future, unaccrued benefits under the policy exceed $75,000, as well as its claim that when combined with possible benefits recoverable under §349, Squillante's benefits under the policy exceed $75,000. Noting LINA's denial of Squillante's claim after investigation the court found it improper to consider unaccrued benefits under the policy in calculating the amount in controversy. Further noting that Squillante was owed a maximum of $20,000, the court determined that—even granting it $1000 in treble damages—LINA did not prove, by preponderant evidence, that attorney's fees awarded under §349(h) would exceed $54,000.

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