Widow sues Metlife over accidental death benefits

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County widow is suing Metlife Affiliated Insurance Agency after she claims it has refused to pay her for her late husband's accidental death benefits.

In September 1977 and 1979 Larry Casto purchased two New England Mutual Life Insurance Company policies, according to a complaint filed April 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

New England Mutual Life Insurance Company merged with and/or was acquired by Metlife Affiliated Insurance Agency sometime later.

Sharon Casto, Larry Casto's wife, claims among the benefits included in the policies were accidental death benefits totaling $115,000.

Larry Casto died in 2004, according to the suit, and in February 2006, Sharon Casto instituted a medical malpractice suit against those she claimed caused her husband's wrongful death.

Sharon Casto claims because the malpractice occurred under emergency conditions, damages were capped at $500,000, however, the wrongful death claims settled in excess of the statutory cap 14 months after the claim was initiated.

The cap on damages of $500,000 is abandoned when the care rendered is in willful and wanton or reckless disregard of harm to the patient, according to West Virginia Code.

Sharon Casto claims the defendant refuses to pay her the accidental death benefits, which is in breach of the contract.

Sharon Casto is seeking judgment in the amount of $115,000 with pre- and post-judgment interest and punitive damages. She is being represented by Richard D. Lindsay.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis H. Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-665

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