Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Companies Should Know When Their Customers Die: Court Rendered Judgment For An Estate Who Was Sued By An Annuity Company For Overpayments

ImagesIn In Re Estate of Scott, an annuity company sued a customer’s estate for not reporting the death of his wife, which resulted in him receiving larger monthly payments after her death than he was entitled to under the contract. The customer died in 2013, and the annuity company discovered the overpayments in 2014. In 2016, the annuity company filed suit against the customer’s estate for the overpayments. Both parties filed summary judgment motions, and the trial court entered judgment for the annuity company. The estate appealed.

The court of appeals reversed and decided in favor of the estate. First, the court addressed the annuity company's breach of contract claim. The court held that the contrast did not imply nor expressly require the surviving spouse to report the death of the first spouse. 

The court then reviewed the annuity company's money-had-and-received claim. The court went in detail about the claim stating, “Money had and received is an equitable doctrine designed to prevent unjust enrichment. To prevail on a claim for money had and received, the plaintiff need only prove that the defendant holds money which in equity and good conscience belongs to the plaintiff.” The court ultimately held that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. 

Lastly, the court rejected the annuity company’s fraud by nondisclosure claim. The court held that the annuity company had an equal opportunity to discover their customer's death.

Accordingly, the court dismissed all of the annuity company’s claims and rendered judgment for the estate of the customer.

See David Fowler Johnson, Companies Should Know When Their Customers Die: Court Rendered Judgment For An Estate Who Was Sued By An Annuity Company For Overpayments, Winstead PC, June 19, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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