CHARLESTON – A lawsuit has been filed against Protective Life Insurance Company alleging it breached its contract with a woman and her late husband.

Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co. was also named as a defendant in the suit.

In April 2005, Rhoda Frye and her husband purchased life insurance policies from Chase Life Insurance Company and the defendants ultimately took over the policies and obligations under the policies, according to a complaint filed in Mingo Circuit Court and removed to federal court.

Frye claims her husband was insured for the amount of $150,000 and Frye was the beneficiary of the policy.

On Nov. 11, 2014, Frye’s husband passed away, entitling her to the benefits due under the policy and, shortly after his death, she inquired as to payment of the policy to assist with the funeral costs, according to the suit.

Frye claims on the telephone, a representative of the defendant stated that a payment was due, but that they would withhold the payment due from the amount paid out on the policy and Frye submitted the claim and death certificate to the defendant.

Despite being placed upon proper notice of his death, the defendants refused to make the payment due in accordance with the insurance contract and the defendants’ representatives contended that the policy had been canceled for late payment of premiums, according to the suit.

Frye claims as evidence of their contention, they relied on documents labeled as “Notice of Payment Due” and “Second Notice of Payment Due” that were allegedly sent, however a clear, definite and certain notice of cancelation was not sent or received by Frye or her late husband and the same had not been provided subsequently.

The defendants unilaterally breached the contract by refusing to pay the amount due and owing under the applicable life insurance policy and the defendants have refused and continue to refuse to pay the benefits in accordance with the insurance policy, according to the suit.

Frye claims the defendants breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing and violated the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.

Frye is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Joshua S. Ferrell and Nathan D. Brown of Ferrell & Brown PLLC; and Susan Van Zant of Susan J. Van Zant LC.

Protective Life Insurance Company is represented by Carrie Goodwin Fenwick and Elise N. McQuain of Goodwin & Goodwin LLP.

The case is assigned to District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-16567

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