Florida Supreme Court hears "dead peasant" insurance case

        On May 4, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court heard argument in the case Wayne Atkinson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Click here to watch the argument). The case concerned Wal-Mart’s policies of “corporate-owned” life insurance, sometimes called “dead peasant” insurance, on the lives of its Florida employees.   Michael Myers of McClanahan Myers Espey argued on behalf of the families of the Wal-Mart employees. Wal-Mart was represented by Eileen Tilghman Moss of the firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Miami, Florida.

        In the case, Mr. Atkinson and others sued Wal-Mart, seeking to recover life insurance benefits Wal-Mart was paid after the deaths of their relatives, who had worked for Wal-Mart as rank-and-file employees.  The company received $66,048 after the death of Rita Atkinson and $72,820 after the death of Karen Armatrout.  A federal judge ruled the women's families did not have the right to sue under Florida law.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit then asked the Florida Supreme Court whether Florida law allows such a lawsuit.

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