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7th Circuit rejects ‘kitchen sink approach’ in widow’s insurance appeal

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A woman whose husband died of cancer as their purchase of several Terre Haute-based car dealerships was failing is not entitled to proceeds of his life insurance policy – a policy that had been assigned as an asset in the sale of the lots – the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The court affirmed rulings in favor of the insurer and third parties by Judge Larry J. McKinney of the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Terre Haute. “Finding no merit in any of the issues appealed, we affirm the district court’s judgments,” Judge Michael S. Kanne wrote for the panel in Cincinnati Life Insurance Company v. Marjorie Beyrer,
12-2365.

The Beyrers managed and later began to purchase car dealerships owned by Mark Savoree. The 7th Circuit noted that the deal began to fall apart almost immediately and resulted in a series of lawsuits. In the instant case, the panel didn’t reserve criticism.

“Appellant’s complaint strikes us as exactly the type of ‘kitchen sink approach to pleading’ that we have previously found to violate the Federal Rules,” Kanne wrote. “At times, appellant’s convoluted language even renders it unclear precisely what fact she has attempted to allege.”

The opinion refers to an example paragraph and notes, “there are 27 different possible permutations of the allegation. … This was not appellant’s most complex sentence.” Judges expressed seeming exasperation with the appeal, noting, “The paragraph numbers restart at 119 after 150, which is yet one more example of how confusingly this complaint was constructed.”

The panel agreed with McKinney’s rulings dismissing the Beyrers’ cross-claims and third-party claims for failing to meet pleading standards; denial of motions for modification and reconsideration; and summary judgment on distribution of the life insurance proceeds.

Beyrer’s claims that asserted fraud or unjust enrichment against assignees of the policy failed to meet heightened pleading standards under Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) that require such allegations be made with particularity. “That means describing the ‘who, what, when, where, and how’ of the fraud,” Kanne wrote. “As the district court observed, appellant failed at this task.”

“Appellant contends that she (or, more realistically, her counsel) has done ‘more than the usual,’ including ‘traveling to the remote reaches of Illinois,’” Kanne wrote. “We are sympathetic to the travel required to find far-off court reporters, and we do not wish to cast aspersions on the level of effort expended by appellant or her counsel. But Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) does more than simply mandate that attorneys show some increased amount of work.”


 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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