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Casey v. American International Group, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 9, 2014

LINDA CASEY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC., a Delaware corporation a/k/a AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURSANCE CO. f/k/a WESTERN NATIONAL LIFE INSURSANCE CO. f/k/a AIG ANNUITY INSURANCE CO., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ELAINE E. BUCKLO, District Judge.

Linda Casey ("Casey") has sued American International Group, Inc. ("AIG") for allegedly breaching an annuity contract. AIG has moved to dismiss Casey's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. I deny AIG's motion for the reasons stated below.

I.

At the motion to dismiss stage, I must accept Casey's factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. See Geinosky v. City of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 746 (7th Cir. 2012). I may also consider the documents attached to AIG's motion to dismiss-i.e., the two underlying annuity applications, the annuity contract, and a March 1, 2013 letter- because Casey referred to these documents in her complaint and they are central to her claim. Id. at 745 n.1. I also take note of the exhibits Casey has submitted in opposition to AIG's motion to dismiss because they illustrate facts that she intends to prove. Id.

On March 12, 2008, Natalie Bailey ("Bailey") applied for a $96, 000 annuity policy as the "owner" and "annuitant." Casey executed the application as "joint owner." Bailey's application contains the signature of an AIG agent named Henry Meyer, but the complaint is silent about what role, if any, he played in preparing or reviewing Bailey's application.

The annuity application states that in the event of Bailey's death, the joint owner (Casey) would become the primary beneficiary of the policy unless Bailey designated otherwise. Bailey checked a box on her March 12, 2008 application to change this default designation and attached a schedule of eighteen beneficiaries. Casey is listed on this schedule as a "friend" entitled to eight percent of the policy proceeds in the event of Bailey's death. Bailey and Casey both signed the hand-written schedule of beneficiaries.

On March 17, 2008, AIG issued an annuity policy to Bailey that listed her initial premium payment as $97, 000. See Def.'s Ex. B (Policy No. 1ET01836). As the policy owner, Bailey had the right to change her beneficiary designations. Id. at 4. The annuity contract contained the following language about changing beneficiary designations:

If you make a beneficiary change, the change will take effect on the date you sign the change request form. However, we are not responsible for any payment or other action taken before we have received and acknowledged in writing your change request.

Id. at 5.

On April 1, 2008, Bailey and Casey executed a second annuity application that left in place the default designation of Casey, the joint owner, as the policy's primary beneficiary. Bailey's second application listed the number of her existing annuity policy (1ET01836), but did not bear the signature of a licensed AIG agent.

Bailey died on May 28, 2011 at the age of eighty-two. Casey subsequently demanded that AIG pay her the benefits owed to the primary beneficiary of Bailey's annuity policy.

In a letter to Casey's attorney dated March 1, 2013, AIG acknowledged it had received Casey's second annuity application dated April 1, 2008. See Def.'s Ex. C. However, AIG stated that Bailey's second application did not change her beneficiary designations: "As the annuity was, by [then], in force, the second application was not necessary to set up the annuity, and it was not viewed as an attempt to change the beneficiary." Id.

AIG's letter also described an inquiry made by Henry Meyer, "the writing agent of [Bailey's] annuity, " on June 12, 2008. AIG asserted that the "specific purpose" of Meyer's inquiry was to confirm that "the [eighteen] beneficiary designation attached to [Bailey's] original application were in place." Id.

Not satisfied with AIG's response, Casey filed a Consumer Complaint Form with the Illinois Department of Insurance ("IDOI") on September 24, 2013. In its response to Casey's complaint, AIG reiterated its position that "[t]he receipt of [Bailey's] additional application was not considered to be a request for a change in the beneficiaries listed in the document ...


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