May 1, 2016
Moses Kraus, the former associate of Mayer Hirsch and the Kestenbaums, has been busy after copping a plea deal with the federal government. One of his more recent schemes: marriage insurance policies for New York’s Orthodox Jewish community. These policies pay out when “one marries, dies, or reaches the age of 26.”
Law360 spells out the unusual “arrangement”:
Law360, New York (September 10, 2009, 5:30 PM ET) — Members of New York’s Orthodox Jewish community who held marriage insurance policies with La Suisse Societe d’Assurances sur la vie, now the Swiss Life Group, have brought a putative class action against the Swiss insurer, accusing it of breaching the policy’s contract.
Eight plaintiffs filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Wednesday, looking to certify all U.S. Residents, numbering in the thousands, who were La Suisse policyholders or assignees between 1989 to 1995 of endowment insurance for the event of marriage.
The plaintiffs say in their complaint that similar allegations have prevailed against La Suisse in Swiss courts.
“Applicable Swiss law which was not available during the prior actions is now available to aid this court in deciding the fate of 7,000 innocent policyholders who were deceived and strong-armed by an alien insurance giant,” the complaint said.
Plaintiffs Malka Reizy Moskovitz, Sarah Feuer Werber, Berl Frankel, Moshe Eckstein, Yisruel Goldstein, Israel Fried, Jacob Moskovitz and Victor Frankel originally filed a complaint against La Suisse seeking relief and damages in June 2005.
They have also sued the policy’s insurance brokers, Moses Kraus and Caruso AG, as third party defendants.
The marriage policy pays out benefits when a person marries, dies or reaches the age of 26. The plaintiffs indicated in their complaint that the payout is used to fund their marriages and “provide initial capital for young couples.”
The plaintiffs allege that La Suisse marketed and sold insurance contracts between 1989 to 1995 without the authority to do so. The company breached several of its contract obligations related to how La Suisse disbursed payouts and collected premiums from insured parties, they said.
La Suisse had a scheme to make reduced payouts on the marriage plan by delaying payment on insurance claims by several months with “unreasonable and burdensome demands for unnecessary documents,” the plaintiffs said.
La Suisse also paid the wrong amount to some policyholders who married, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs are seeking to certify four sub-classes, according to their complaint.
One sub-class would be made up of 3,500 policyholders who the plaintiffs allege were not paid properly when they married before age 19.
A second class would be made up of 2,500 people who had to pay wrongful fees and “exorbitant” interests on contractual loans they used to buy plan premiums, according to the complaint.
A third class would comprise 1,400 policyholders who were not paid annual interest on their dividend accounts, the complaint said.
A fourth class would comprise 60 policyholders who were not paid a contractually-promised bonus, the complaint said.
Attorneys for La Suisse did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.