“ You Are Worth More Dead Than Alive In The United States.”
Corporate-owned life insurance (COLI) (sometimes referred to as dead peasant insurance) is life insurance on employees' lives that is owned by the employer corporation, with benefits payable to the corporation.
They're known as "dead peasant" policies — secret life insurance policies taken out on unwitting employees — and they've ignited a forest fire of litigation that won't die down. Insurance company unlawfully misused their names, Social Security numbers and other personal information to market and sell their product. Half of all U.S. banks have reported owning bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) policies on employees, at an estimated value of $120 billion.
This dispute involves the personal representatives of the estates of eight individuals who were employed by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Oklahoma. Plaintiffs seek to recover life insurance benefits they claim the Wal-Mart defendants wrongfully received upon the deaths of the Wal-Mart employees whom they represent. In both the Second and Third Amended Class Action Complaints, all of the plaintiffs specifically allege a violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 36, § 3604, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation.
The context in which these claims arise involves corporate owned life insurance ("COLI") policies purchased by Wal-Mart and other companies during the 1990s. COLI policies were driven by tax considerations later challenged by the Internal Revenue Service and rendered obsolete by legislation. Challenges by employees, or their estates, soon followed. One Wal-Mart class action yielded a $10.3 million settlement in 2004; another settled for $5 million in 2006.
Next: Irma Johnson lives in The Woodlands, Huston, Texas. Her husband had worked for Amegy Bank. As of 2005 Amegy Bank is the largest bank in Houston. In 2008, Irma’s husband died of brain cancer. Irma said she did not know about a life insurance policy (dead peasant policy) the bank (Amegy) took out on her husband. After his death, she said the policy paid not her, but the bank, over $1.5 million. Her Houston attorney, Mike Myers, said they reached a confidential settlement.
Another: Panera Bread (called St. Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis metropolitan area) is a chain of bakery-café restaurants in the United States and Canada which sells breads, sandwiches, soups, salads, bakery items, and organic foods. Panera, in 2009, made $3 million by pocketing the death benefits after several of its employees died --- without giving their families a red penny.
More: Take CM Holdings Inc. When one of its employees, Felipe M. Tillman, died, the company received life insurance benefits amounting to $339,302; his family received a big, fat nothing.
And Another: Survivors of now defunct Dow Chemical Co. workers have discovered their loved ones may have been covered by secret life insurance policies, and now they want the benefits.
The Midland, Mich., Dow Chemical company is the latest in a growing list of firms tangled up in lawsuits over so-called "dead peasant" life insurance policies. Dow paid $10,000 a year in premiums, the benefits to covered employees could be worth as much as $300,000 each. The insurance policies came to light when Dow Chemical sued the Internal Revenue Service two years ago to recover $22.2 million in federal income taxes and interest it believed it overpaid. The IRS contended Dow had improperly deducted a $30.3 million loan, used to pay the premiums, and $2.7 million in administrative expenses between 1989 and 1991. It gets even better. The IRS successfully proved the expenses were made solely to avoid federal income tax liability. Dow bought the polices on 4,051 management level employees in 1988 and another 17,061 policies on its full-time employees in 1991. Dow was unable to immediately identify where the covered employees worked. U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas in Houston ruled earlier that year, that Wal-Mart improperly used Georgia law when it bought “secret” life insurance policies on 350,000 employees. Atlas' decision on Wal-Mart, as well as in previous court cases in Texas, opened the door for survivors to recover any insurance proceeds Dow Chemical received in Texas for deceased employees.
The following companies, however, are believed to have been named as the beneficiary of life insurance policies on employees: other than those already mentioned are: AT&T, Dow Chemical, Nestle USA, Procter & Gamble, Winn-Dixie, American Electric Power, ADAC Laboratories, Advanced Telecommunication Corp. Aeroquip Vickers Inc. Alabama Power Co. Alfa Corp. Allegheny Technologies Inc. Allergan Inc. Allfirst Financial Inc. American Business Products, Inc. American Electric Power, American Express Co. American Greetings Corp. American Management Systems Inc. American Seafoods Group LLC, Ameritech Corp. Amerus Group Co. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Appalachian Power Co. Arch Chemical. Aristech Chemical Corp. AT&T Communications. Atlantic Richfield Co. Avery Dennison Corp. and Avon Products Inc. to name but the “A” list . Over three hundred companies, again believed to have purchased this type of insurance on their employees taking advantage of loop holes in American legislation. All this amounts to is another form of greed by national and multinational corporations to increase profits and bonuses to the top executives. The employee be damned and the grieving family? “Who cares about them! They’re still alive and worth nothing to us.”
Ever wonder if the United States Military is doing the same thing for all their fighting soldiers? Only a thought now. Only a thought. Or the education system! Or the Aircraft industry? Gee, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Comments are welcomed.
Further information can be gleaned at the following web sites.
http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202427898741&slreturn=1... http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/abc-news-are-dead-peasant-li... http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&add... http://www.mindfully.org/Industry/Dow-Dead-Peasant-Insurance6jun02.htm