Lawsuit: AIG allegedly denied life insurance benefits to estate of former Anti-Defamation League secretary

By Nicholas Malfitano | Mar 22, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – Executors for the estate of a Philadelphia decedent argue in a new lawsuit that their mother’s life insurance benefits were unfairly denied to the estate after her passing.

Marlys M. Hickman and Sean F. McGee (as executors of the Estate of Florence A. McGee) of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on March 14 versus the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai Brith (ADL), also of Philadelphia, and American General Life Insurance Company (AIG), of Nashville, Tenn.

The complaint states Florence worked for the ADL, a nonprofit organization to stop defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all, as a secretary and retired from that role in 1998. During her employment, she received a salary and other benefits, including medical insurance coverage, paid vacation, sick pay and group life insurance coverage, provided for by Old Line Life Insurance Company of America prior to its later merger with defendant AIG.

Per the terms of that coverage, a total life insurance benefit of $60,000 was allotted for Florence, along with an annual premium amount of $5,400, the suit says. Upon her retirement, the decedent received the contractual life insurance benefits which would be paid upon her death, and the premium group life insurance policy, which covered Florence, was paid for by ADL to AIG after her retirement.

Florence’s primary and sole beneficiary was her husband Peter F. McGee, who pre-deceased her on Dec. 4, 2016. As no contingent beneficiary was listed, the money was then mandated under the policy to eventually be paid to Florence’s estate. ADL paid for Florence’s life insurance from November 2016 to the date of her death, with those payments being deducted from her pension check, the suit says.

After Florence’s death on April 7, 2017, Hickman and McGee investigated the assets of her Estate and payment of the policy. ADL called AIG to make a claim on behalf of the Estate, and was then told that the policy was cancelled in November 2016, the suit says.

AIG claimed it did not receive a reply from ADL regarding the lapse, nor had AIG received ADL’s premium payment for the policy.

“AIG also claimed that it sent a cancellation notice on Nov. 12, 2016. Neither Ms. Hickman nor Mr. McGee received any such ‘Notices of Lapse’ or cancellation notice. Further, the ADL did not receive any cancellation notice from AIG,” the suit states.

AIG sent a letter to its General Counsel on June 6, 2017, returning the premium payment of $12,017.40 and acknowledging the policy could be reinstated via the Estate completing a “Proof of Death Claimant’s Statement” and returning it to AIG. Despite doing so, the Estate claims it never received payment under the life insurance policy of $60,000, or to recognize the reinstatement of the policy that it claimed had lapsed or was cancelled.

“On May 11, 2017, General Counsel of ADL, sent a letter to AIG, tendering payment of $12,017.40, as payment of premiums due under the life insurance policy applicable to the deceased. AIG cashed the premium check and acknowledged its receipt in a letter to ADL dated June 6, 2017. AIG recognized in its letter that the policy accepts reinstatements of a life insurance policy, even if there has been a lapse or cancellation, when the premium payment is made,” according to the complaint.

For counts of breach of contract versus each defendant, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $60,000, plus interest at a rate of six percent per year, attorney’s fees and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by David A Gradwohl in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180301635

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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