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Maifeld v. West Coast Life Ins. Co.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 5, 2014

SCOTT S. MAIFELD, Debtor-Appellant,
v.
WEST COAST LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Creditor-Appellee

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Plaintiff, Pro se, Boston, MA.

For Scott S. Maifield, Appellant: David G. Baker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Boston, MA.

For West Coast Life Insurance Company, Pierce Atwood LLP, Appellee: Pierce Atwood LLP, LEAD ATTORNEY, Boston, MA.

OPINION

Page 187

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

In this case, the Court is asked to decide whether the bankruptcy estate of debtor Scott S. Maifeld (" Maifeld" ) is entitled to the proceeds of a life insurance policy (" the policy" ) on his mother, Gloria Vant (" Vant" ), that was issued by West Coast Life Insurance Company (" West Coast" ).

Because the Bankruptcy Court found that (1) the policy had lapsed according to its unambiguous terms prior to Vant's death and (2) that West Coast's contract was with Vant, not Maifeld, it allowed West Coast's motion to dismiss both counts of Maifeld's complaint in his adversary proceeding.

In his appeal of that decision to this Court, Maifeld proffers several arguments to circumvent the adverse ruling but they fall short of persuading this Court that it was erroneous. Accordingly, this Court will affirm the Bankruptcy Court's dismissal of Maifeld's complaint.

I. Background

The Court briefly recites the relevant facts of this case. Although the parties quibble about the state of the record and which facts may be considered at this juncture, the Court perceives no material dispute of fact in the subject proceeding.

A. Factual Background

In August, 2001, West Coast issued to Vant a term life insurance policy in the amount of $100,000 on which the primary beneficiary was her husband, Stuart L. Vant. The secondary beneficiary was her son, Maifeld. The policy stated that West Coast would pay the death benefit to the beneficiary upon " proof that the insured died while this policy was in force."

The policy also stated on its first page that it was a

legal contract between the policy owner and [West Coast] [and that premiums] must be paid when due to avoid loss of coverage or reduction of benefits.

The policy contained a 31-day grace period, specifying that it would " continue in force during this period" but the past-due premium would be deducted from any death benefit. If the premium was not paid " when due or within the grace period, [the] policy...will ...


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