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Summary Judgment For Life Insurer Affirmed Based on Preexisting Condition, and Criminal and Tort Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on July 16, 2010 8:40 AM

Adam v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., No. 09-3014, involved an action against a life insurer alleging breach of contract and bad faith after defendant rescinded an insurance policy and denied plaintiff's claim for benefits.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants on the grounds that 1) regardless of whether the contract explicitly stated that preexisting conditions will be considered, as a matter of the plain language of the contract, law and logic, plaintiff's false answer to a question was material; 2) defendant justifiably relied upon plaintiff's assertion that he had not been treated for a mental health issue within five years of his application for life insurance; and 3) a material misrepresentation on the insurance application was a reasonable basis for denial.

Lang v. Soc. Sec. Admin, No. 09-1927, concerned a garnishment action brought by appellant in Minnesota state court against the Social Security Administration.  The court of appeals reversed the dismissal of the action on the ground that the government's removal was untimely whether the clock started to run when the initial garnishment summons was served or when the supplemental complaint was served.

In Langella v. Anderson, No. 09-3024, a prosecution for various organized crime-related offenses, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's habeas petition, on the ground that the court of appeals did not have jurisdiction to review the Parole Commission's substantive decisions and petitioner's claims are based on his disagreement with the Parole Commission's subjective appraisal of disputed facts.

Lesch v. US, No. 09-1968, concerned an action seeking damages resulting from a car accident against the driver of the car that struck her vehicle, as well as the U.S. as a result of the actions of an FBI agent.  Th court of appeals affirmed judgment for plaintiff with respect to the driver, but against plaintiff with respect to the U.S., holding that 1) because the agent's testimony was neither incoherent nor facially implausible, the district court's findings based upon its decision to credit that testimony were not clearly erroneous; 2) no fault needed to be assigned to a non-negligent party; and 3) the court was not convinced that there were any proven losses for which the district court did not account.

In Williams v. Norris, No. 09-1062, a capital habeas matter, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, on the grounds that 1) where the offered evidence of mitigation has nothing to do with a criminal's character, record, background, condition, or the circumstances of the crime, it is not relevant on the issue of punishment; 2) petitioner failed to show that there was a reasonable probability that allegedly improper testimony affected his sentence, and that absent the testimony, the sentence would have been different; and 3) petitioner failed to show that his counsel was deficient in failing to strike a prospective juror for cause, and that her inclusion on the jury resulted in an unfair trial.

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