A Westerly woman has filed a lawsuit against the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Hartford Insurance Co., claiming they violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act when they discontinued her long-term disability benefits last May.
The termination of benefits "was done pretextually and with the purpose of interfering with a right to which she was entitled under an employee benefit plan," the suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence, alleges.
Nubia Mazzarese, the plaintiff, had worked for the tribe for 14 years, most recently as a dealer at Foxwoods Resort Casino, when she sustained "substantial injuries" on Dec. 13, 2001, according to the suit. The court documents do not include the nature of her injuries or how they were sustained.
Since that date, she has been diagnosed with "various debilitating injuries and illnesses" that have left her disabled, the suit says.
In March 2002, Mazzarese qualified for long-term disability benefits under a group insurance policy the Hartford Insurance Co. issued for certain employees of the tribe. On May 25, 2018, the tribe and the insurance company discontinued Mazzarese's benefits, the suit says. In January, they denied her appeal of the termination.
"There was, and is, no legal or factual basis for denial of the claims presented by Plaintiff," the suit says.
Neither Mazzarese nor her Providence attorney, Mark Morse, could be reached. Tribal officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Mazzarese's suit seeks payment of $200,000.
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