Tuesday, April 11, 2017
In Prudential Insurance Co. of America v. Harding, a Florida court refused to apply the state’s Slayer Statute to the partner of a decedent after a fight resulted in the decedent’s death. Maurice McGriff and Terry Rigby were involved in a physical altercation, in which Rigby passed away from his injuries. McGriff claimed self-defense but gave two conflicting statements when reporting the incident. After his death, McGriff, as the sole beneficiary of Rigby’s life insurance policy, and Rigby’s sister made claims to the $466,000 life insurance death benefit. However, Rigby’s sister claimed McGriff was ineligible to receive the benefit under Florida’s Slayer Statute because he was responsible for Rigby’s death. The statute provides that a final conviction of murder is conclusive evidence, but in the absence of such a conviction, the court can weigh the evidence to determine whether the killing was unlawful and intentional. Subsequently, there was no murder conviction, and the parties disputed about whether the killing was unlawful. Ultimately, the court concluded that McGriff did not act unlawfully and his claim of self-defense could have merit, preventing the use of the Slayer Statute and awarding McGriff’s estate the life insurance proceeds.
See Jonathan A. Galler, Slayer Statute Not Applicable, Says Florida Court, Wealth Management, April 10, 2017.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.