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Brown v. New York Life Insurance Co.

December 14, 2006

JACK BROWN AND JACK BROWN BUICK, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE CO., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Curtis Schultz's ("Schultz") motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, we deny the motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Jack G. Brown ("Brown") and Jack Brown Buick, Inc. ("JBB") allege that they purchased insurance policies from New York Life Insurance Co. ("NYL") sometime prior to the 1980s. According to Plaintiffs, in the early 1980s, Schultz, who was NYL's agent, met with Brown and another JBB employee to discuss the purchase of new life insurance policies for JBB. Schultz allegedly convinced Brown and the other JBB employee to purchase new policies and to take advantage of a program offered by NYL called the Premium Offset Proposal ("POP Program"). Under the POP Program, Plaintiffs were allegedly required to surrender or borrow against the value of their existing policies and use that value to purchase new policies. Schultz allegedly indicated that the new policies would have greater death benefits, cash values, and surrender values than the previous policies. According to Plaintiffs, Schultz made misrepresentations concerning how the POP Program operated and also regarding the benefits that Plaintiffs would receive by joining the POP Program.

Plaintiffs allege that they regularly paid premiums on the new policies ("Policies") that were purchased under the POP Program and believed the Policies were fully paid up until they received premium notices in 1999 ("1999 Notices"). Plaintiffs also claim that between 1999 and 2003 they received additional notices for premiums. According to Plaintiffs, each time they received a notice they contacted Schultz for an explanation. When Plaintiffs contacted Schultz on each occasion, Schultz allegedly made further false assurances and contacted NYL to have the premiums reduced. As a result of Schultz's alleged misrepresentations, Plaintiffs claim that there are substantial loans that have been taken against the Policies, the Policies have little cash value, and the Policies have little value at the death of an insured after the payment of outstanding loans. Plaintiffs also allege that Schultz was trained by NYL to mislead NYL customers in order to lure customers into the POP program.

Plaintiffs brought the instant action and include in the amended complaint a breach of contract claim (Count I), a fraud claim (Count II), a negligent misrepresentation claim (Count III), a claim alleging a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act ("Fraud Act"), 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Count IV), and an unjust enrichment and constructive trust claim (Count V). Schultz now moves to dismiss the claims brought against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) due to lack of timely service.

LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), a defendant can seek a dismissal of the claims brought against him based upon "insufficiency of process. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) ("Rule 4(m)") provides that "[i]f service of the summons and complaint is not made upon a defendant within 120 days after the filing of the complaint, the court, upon motion or on its own initiative after notice to the plaintiff, shall dismiss the action without prejudice as to that defendant or direct that service be effected within a specified time. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). Rule 4(m) also provides that "if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure" to serve within the 120 deadline, "the court shall extend the time for service for an appropriate period." Id.

DISCUSSION

Schultz argues that he was not served with the complaint in the instant action in a timely fashion and that Plaintiffs have not shown good cause for failing to serve Schultz in a timely fashion.

I. Rule 4(m) 120-Day Deadline

Schultz contends that Plaintiffs did not serve him with the complaint in the instant action before the Rule 4(m) 120-day deadline. Plaintiffs commenced the instant action in state court on May 17, 2006. This action was subsequently removed to federal court and the docket indicates that Schultz was eventually served by Plaintiffs on October 20, 2006. Thus, service upon Schultz was effectuated more than 120 days after the filing of the complaint and was beyond the Rule 4(m) 120-day deadline.

II. Extension of Service Deadline

Plaintiffs argue that even if the service upon Schultz was beyond the Rule 4(m) 120-day deadline, this court has discretion to grant an extension of the service deadline and Plaintiffs had ...


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