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February 2015

Gordon & Rees San Diego Team Disposes Of Life Insurance Fraud Lawsuit By Demurrer

On Jan. 26, Gordon & Rees San Diego partners Kevin W. Alexander and Renata Ortiz Bloom obtained an order on behalf of their life insurance company clients sustaining their demurrer to all five causes of action alleged in the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint without leave to amend. The order was followed by a prompt judgment of dismissal in favor of Gordon & Rees’s clients. Given the plaintiffs’ demand of $10.5 million, the clients were particularly pleased with the outcome.

The plaintiffs, a purported beneficiary and agent, alleged that defendants had promised that they would issue a $10 million life insurance policy on the life of decedent, and accordingly, they were entitled to the policy proceeds and approximately $500,000 of anticipated commissions. The plaintiffs alleged claims of fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation, unfair competition, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and promissory estoppel.

Gordon & Rees demurred three times, arguing that the purported beneficiary lacked standing to pursue any of her claims, which eventually resulted in the voluntary dismissal of the improper beneficiary from the lawsuit. With regard to the promissory estoppel and negligent misrepresentation claims, Gordon & Rees successfully argued that these claims were time barred by the two year statute of limitations set forth in Cal. Civ. Proc. § 339(1), despite plaintiffs’ contention that these claims were subject to a three year statute. Gordon & Rees also argued that these claims failed because there was no clear and unambiguous promise for the court to enforce. As to the unfair competition claim, the firm convinced the court that plaintiffs had not sustained an injury in fact or lost money as a result of the purported unfair completion, and that plaintiffs had not pled a viable remedy. Gordon & Rees also demonstrated that the intentional interference claim was time barred and failed for both lack of an existing economic relationship and lack of an independently wrongful interference. With regard to the fraud in the inducement claim, Gordon & Rees used inconsistent allegations made in the lengthy second amended complaint to its advantage, ultimately persuading the court that plaintiffs would be unable to properly plead a fraud in the inducement claim.

Kevin W. Alexander
Renata Ortiz Bloom