Articles Posted in Life Insurance

Insurance lawyers will get frequent phone calls from a life insurance beneficiary wherein the beneficiary had a spouse who has died and that spouse had life insurance that had been obtained through their employer/work.  This was the case in a recent opinion from the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division.  The style of the case is Vanessa St. Pierre v. Dearborn National Life Insurance Company.

The facts of this case a somewhat confusing the opinion needs to be read to get what the exact facts were in this case.  However, the law related to insurance coverage when it is purchased through employment is discussed and knowing about this law is important when it comes to being able to properly discuss with clients the possible outcome in a case.

Quoting from the case:

This life insurance claim opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and is styled, Wharlest Jackson v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.

Among other causes of action, Jackson has sued Farmers under an insurance policy for violation of the “Prompt Payment of Claims Act.” Farmers has filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on the allegation that Jackson has not properly pled a violation of the Prompt Payment of Claims Act against Farmers.  The Court reviewed the papers filed with the Court and discussed and ruled as follows.

Crystal Jackson purchased a life insurance policy from Farmers.  Wharlest Jackson was the sole beneficiary of the policy.  Crystal died in a motorcycle accident and Wharlest made a claim which Farmers denied based on alleged misrepresentations in the policy application.

This life insurance claim opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and is styled, Wharlest Jackson v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.

Among other causes of action, Jackson has sued Farmers under an insurance policy for violation of the “duty of good faith and fair dealing.” Farmers has filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on the allegation that Jackson has not properly pled a violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing against Farmers.  The Court reviewed the papers filed with the Court and discussed and ruled as follows.

Crystal Jackson purchased a life insurance policy from Farmers.  Wharlest Jackson was the sole beneficiary of the policy.  Crystal died in a motorcycle accident and Wharlest made a claim which Farmers denied based on alleged misrepresentations in the policy application.

This life insurance claim opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and is styled, Wharlest Jackson v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.

Among other causes of action, Jackson has sued Farmers under an insurance policy for violations of the Texas Insurance Code. Farmers has filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on the allegation that Jackson has not properly pled violation of Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.060 against Farmers.  The Court reviewed the papers filed with the Court and discussed and ruled as follows.

Crystal Jackson purchased a life insurance policy from Farmers.  Wharlest Jackson was the sole beneficiary of the policy.  Crystal died in a motorcycle accident and Wharlest made a claim which Farmers denied based on alleged misrepresentations in the policy application.

This life insurance claim opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and is styled, Wharlest Jackson v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.

Among other causes of action, Jackson has sued Farmers under an insurance policy for violations of the Texas Insurance Code. Farmers has filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on the allegation that Jackson has not properly pled violations of Texas Insurance Code, Sections 541.051 and 541.061 claim against Farmers.  The Court reviewed the papers filed with the Court and discussed and ruled as follows.

Crystal Jackson purchased a life insurance policy from Farmers.  Wharlest Jackson was the sole beneficiary of the policy.  Crystal died in a motorcycle accident and Wharlest made a claim which Farmers denied based on alleged misrepresentations in the policy application.

This life insurance claim opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and is styled, Wharlest Jackson v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.

Among other causes of action, Jackson has sued Farmers under an insurance policy for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Farmers has filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on the allegation that Jackson has not properly pled a DTPA claim against Farmers.  The Court reviewed the papers filed with the Court and discussed and ruled as follows.

Crystal Jackson purchased a life insurance policy from Farmers.  Wharlest Jackson was the sole beneficiary of the policy.  Crystal died in a motorcycle accident and Wharlest made a claim which Farmers denied based on alleged misrepresentations in the policy application.

Here is a 2020, case from the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, that deals with life insurance wherein the life insurance plan is subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The case is styled, Wagma Mina Huerta v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, et al.

This case, filed by Huerta , is an action pursuant to ERISA seeking equitable relief for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by the Defendants related to the denial of life insurance coverage for the death of Huerta’s husband.

The opinion is lengthy but only a part will be discussed here.  The factual background can be read in the opinion.  In this case, MetLife had filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6), which allows dismissal of an action whenever the complaint, on its face, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  United States, 5th Circuit case law states that when considering a motion to dismiss, the court may consider, in addition to the complaint itself, “any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint.”  This is discussed in the 2010, opinion, Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC.  When a defendant attaches such documents, it “merely assists the plaintiff in establishing the basis of the suit and the court in making the elementary determination of whether a claim has been stated.”

What is a First Party claim versus a Third Party claim?

A “first party” policy typically involves insurance that provides policy benefits directly to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss.  The Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.051(2) defines “first party claim” as a claim “by an insured or policyholder under an insurance policy or contract or by a beneficiary named in the policy or contract that must be paid by insurer directly to the insured or beneficiary.  These types of policies generally include health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, auto policy insurance, homeowner’s property insurance, and commercial property insurance.

In contrast, “third party coverage” is generally considered to include all forms of liability insurance.  This type of insurance is designed to insure against loss to third parties caused by the insured or another covered person for whom the covered person may be legally responsible.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  These cases are tough even under the best of circumstances.  Lawyers who handle ERISA cases do not spend time advertising their great results.  The reason is the ERISA law prohibits “great” results.  A win is just getting what you should have received in the first place.  But wins are few and far between, especially in the United States Fifth Circuit.

Here is a case from the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division.  It’s styled is, Edythe Koch v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

In this case, the Court denied MetLife’s motion for summary judgment which is unusual in these cases, thus, at first blush one thinks a win is coming.  But when the Judge conducted it’s own review of the record, the Court upheld the plan administrator’s denial of accidental life insurance benefits.

Many employer based insurance plans fall under ERISA.  Understanding how the courts look at ERISA cases is important for life insurance lawyers to be able to discuss a case with a client.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled on a case that involved a life insurance policy that was governed by ERISA.  The styled of the case is Jason Freeman v. Securian Life Insurance Company.

Jason Freeman was the father of 17 year old Adrian.  Adrian died instantly when he pulled the trigger of a revolver, the barrel of which he had inserted in his mouth immediately after he had spun the gun’s cylinder and twirled the gun around his finger.  Soon after the death of Adrian, it was determined that the revolver had only one cartridge in the cylinder.  The conclusion by the Deputy Medical Examiner of Bexar County, Texas, was that Adrian’s death was the result of a suicide.

Contact Information