Couple says life insurer withheld money

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 15, 2015

CHARLESTON – A couple is suing Athene Annuity and Life Company after they claim it wrongfully withheld life insurance money from them.

Richard J. Lindroth and Marianne B. Lindroth purchased a life insurance policy on their son from Indianapolis Life, which merged and became known as Aviva in 2008, according to a complaint initially filed Nov. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court and removed to federal court on Jan. 5.

At some point prior to 2014, Athene Annuity and Life Company purchased the United States life insurance business interests of Aviva, according to the suit.

The Lindroths claim in August 2013, their youngest son passed away and Aviva honored the terms of the contract by depositing the proceeds of the life insurance policy in two different interest-bearing accounts, one for each plaintiff, which could be drafted in whole or in part.

Aviva also provided drafts for this purpose and sent monthly statements regarding the interest earned by the monies on deposit and detailing any withdrawals, according to the suit.

"By establishing these accounts, Aviva ... performed Indianapolis Life's contractual duties and responsibilities with regard to the payment of life insurance proceeds," the complaint states.

The Lindroths claim some time during 2013, Aviva merged with or was acquired by Athene and they received no notice regarding the acquisition or merger and first discovered that Athene was in the picture when they noticed a charge to the life insurance policy of their surviving son made by Athene.

Athene has repeatedly ignored change of address notices sent to them and has never noticed the plaintiffs that it would unlawfully close their accounts and, despite the closing, has not disbursed the Lindroths monies to them, according to the suit.

"When plaintiffs telephoned Athene to find out why it was charging items to their surviving son's life insurance policy, Athene's agent or employee rudely refused to speak with them, notwithstanding the fact that plaintiffs' provided appropriate identification as to who they were and why they were calling," the complaint states.

On Oct. 23, Richard Lindroth drafted his Aviva account for $4,900 by making a draft payable to Mr. H. Eugene Aliff for a heating and cooling system. Two days later, this draft was dishonored with the notification that the account was closed.

Athene and Avivia have wrongfully usurped and converted the plaintiffs' monies in the amount of approximately $55,000 and continues to wrongfully withhold the money, according to the suit.

Richard J. Lindroth is an attorney and was general counsel to former House Speaker Bob Kiss. In the past, he has been accused of not paying his state taxes for 10 years. He also was arrested after allegedly pulling a gun on a man outside his home.

The Lindroths are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Richard Dorsey of the Law Offices of Richard Dorsey.

The case is assigned to District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-00141

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