Insurer cut payments to teacher with ME

An insurance company stopped making payments to a retired secondary school teacher, who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because she refused to undergo a test it had requested, the High Court has heard.

Bridget Majella Daly has brought proceedings against Zurich Life Assurance over the insurer’s decision to cease paying her a disability allowance to which she claims she is entitled.

The 48-year-old mother of three of The Chase, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, has suffered from ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for many years and has been deemed medically unable to work by the Department of Education.

Ms Daly says that, through ASTI, she signed up to a salary protection scheme with Zurich which ceased paying her benefits in April and informed her her case was under review. She decided to sue Zurich. Last week Ms Daly brought High Court proceedings claiming she and her children were “spied on” and placed under surveillance by a private investigator because she sued Zurich.

The Court granted Ms Daly’s lawyers permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on Zurich Life Assurance Plc. She seeks injunctions directing Zurich to pay her disability benefit under the Salary Protection Scheme. She also seeks orders restraining the defendant and all persons who have knowledge of the order from carrying out any surveillance of her and her children, and that any images be handed over.

The matter returned before Ms Justice Miriam O Regan at yesterday’s vacation sitting of the High Court. Barrister Barney Quirke BL for Zurich told the court that the insurer stopped the payment because Zurich wants her to undergo a test called a ‘Functional Capacity Evaluation’. She had declined to take this test and Zurich stopped the payment under the scheme which it is entitled to do.

Counsel asked the court to adjourn the matter for a number of weeks so it could address Ms Daly’s claim. Counsel said it was consenting to an expedited hearing of Ms Daly’s claim concerning the payment, but did not see the urgency of the injunction application. Rory de Bruir, instructed by Burns Nowlan solicitors, for Ms Daly, objected to any lengthy adjournment. He said the test Ms Daly was asked to take had previously been found by the High Court as not being a medical diagnostic test. There were six independent medical reports that show Ms Daly cannot work and she has been retired by the Dept of Education on health grounds. Ms Justice O’Regan adjourned Ms Daly’s application for injunctions against Zurich to next Wednesday’s sitting.

Previously the court heard Ms Daly was followed while driving one of her children to school, was photographed or filmed by a man while walking in a park on another occasion, and also saw a car drive past her home slowly. The court heard that following a complaint Zurich’s lawyer’s informed Ms Daly’s solicitors Burns Nowlan it would discontinue the surveillance.


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