he held when his employment was terminated.
Plaintiff was in a series of automobile accidents throughout his life, each of which impaired him to some degree. One of these occurred on March 23, 1984 while he was employed at Fairchild. After this accident he suffered memory loss and a consequent decline in his work performance. In March 1985, plaintiff was reassigned first to the Spares Administration Bill of Material Section, and then to the Funding Section of Spares Administration. In both cases, his supervisors expressed concern about whether he could perform successfully.
In 1985, plaintiff applied to CIGNA requesting benefits for cognitive remediation therapy, a course of treatment that he hoped would ameliorate his memory problems. CIGNA acknowledged and processed the claim, but never decided whether to grant it.
On July 30, 1986, plaintiff was involved in another automobile accident. His memory problems were at this time affecting his work capacity to such an extent that he could no longer perform the responsibilities of his position. On October 8, 1986, Fairchild prepared a special "work plan" for plaintiff to assist and monitor his performance for 90 days. Almost two months later, on November 21, 1986, plaintiff and 42 other employees were laid off effective December 12, 1986. Subsequently, Fairchild closed the facility at which plaintiff had performed his duties.
In 1987, the Social Security Administration determined that plaintiff was totally and permanently disabled, and found November 30, 1986 to be the date of disability onset. In 1988, Aetna, the insurer of the Plan's life insurance provisions, waived plaintiff's life insurance premium payments on the ground that he had been disabled since November 1, 1986. Finally, in July 1989, CIGNA found plaintiff eligible for long term disability benefits under Fairchild's Long Term Disability Plan which CIGNA administered. For purposes of these benefits CIGNA found that plaintiff's disability had begun on November 22, 1986.
In 1990, plaintiff applied again to CIGNA for benefits to cover cognitive remediation therapy. CIGNA denied the claim on April 25, 1990, on the ground that the requested benefits were educational in nature and not within the Plan's coverage. Plaintiff appealed the denial, and on July 9, 1991, CIGNA affirmed its prior decision on the additional ground that plaintiff's coverage under the Plan had terminated on February 12, 1987. Subsequently, in a letter dated January 6, 1992, CIGNA informed plaintiff that Fairchild had made the determination that the coverage had ceased, and that all questions and appeals should be directed to Fairchild. Accordingly, plaintiff addressed an appeal to Fairchild on March 18, 1992.
In a decision issued in May 1992, the Committee denied plaintiff's appeal, relying on several provisions of the Plan which the parties agree control the outcome of the instant litigation. These provisions are contained in the Group Insurance Plan Summary Plan Description/Certificate ("Summary Plan Description" or "SPD"),
and set forth the circumstances under which insurance terminates. The first section, entitled "Termination of Insurance - Employees", reads as follows:
Your insurance will cease on the earliest date below: