Beneficiaries of life insurance policies in Chicago often ask whether they need to hire a lawyer when their claim is denied. The answer I most frequently give is that you have no obligation to hire a roofer to replace the roof on your home, but the cost of a roofer completing the work correctly is less than the cost of making mistakes yourself. Nevertheless, some people attempt to represent themselves, often with devastating consequences, as demonstrated in one recent life insurance dispute.
In Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Muecke, No. 22-01029, 2023 WL 3261599 (W.D. La. May 4, 2023), Joe Nickle died in 2001. Two beneficiaries came forward: Mr. Nickle’s girlfriend, Deanne Muecke, and Nickel’s sone, Cameron Nickle. Muecke was the named beneficiary, but Cameron Nickle claimed the beneficiary designation was the product of fraud or coercion. MetLife filed an interpleader action to determine the proper beneficiary of the life insurance. Cameron Nickle moved for summary judgment, which Muecke opposed. Cameron argued Muecke failed to show any evidence she is a valid beneficiary under the plan because a letter she produced was not a proper beneficiary designation form.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana considered the motion and denied it. The court determined Camerone Nickle’s motion was filed after the deadline for summary judgment motions. In addition, Camerone Nickle’s motion failed to attach the letter Cameron contended was not a proper beneficiary designation form. The court explained that Cameron may be correct, but without the benefit of the letter, the court could not determine if Cameron’s argument had merit.
If you have a claim for life insurance benefits, contact an experienced ERISA life insurance lawyer today.