Ron recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of an employer dismissing a claim by a former employee who alleged that her employer had wrongfully acted in concert with its company disability insurer to deprive her of disability benefits.
The court accepted the proposition that the role of the employer with respect to the plaintiff’s disability insurance was simply to place the insurance and then to act as a conduit between the insurer and the plaintiff with respect to information regarding the policy.
The judge agreed with Ron’s submission that the plaintiff had failed to put forward evidence to support her claim of conspiracy between the employer and the insurer. Therefore, the employer having no higher role than that of information conduit, the plaintiff’s claim as against the employer was dismissed on a summary basis. The legal finding of importance to employers was that there is no common law duty on an employer to inform an employee of any matters relating to group benefit insurance other than to pass on information from the insurers.
This decision gives a measure of protection to employers across Ontario who cannot be expected to decipher and interpret complex insurance policies, nor act as advisor to employees in connection with those benefits. This is fair considering that an employer is not obligated to provide benefits at all.
The decision is also yet another illustration of the court using its broad powers on a summary judgment motion to weed out claims not requiring days of trial to do justice in the case.