United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Mary G. Yang, Plaintiff,
Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, Defendant.
W Whitley, Esq., Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley &
Bergmanis, Amery, WI, on behalf of Plaintiff.
R. Shedlock, Esq., Kutak Rock LLP, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
January 18, 2017, the undersigned United States District
Judge heard oral argument on Plaintiff Mary G. Yang's
(“Yang”) and Defendant Farmers New World Life
Insurance Company's (“Farmers”) Motions for
Summary Judgment [Docket Nos. 26, 36]. For the reasons set
forth below, Yang's Motion is granted and Farmers'
Motion is denied.
9, 2003, Yang's grandmother, May Yang (the
“Insured”), signed a $150, 000 20 Year Guarantee
Level Term 2000 FNWL Life Insurance Policy (the
“Policy”) issued by Farmers. At issue in this
case is the birthdate of the Insured. Yang contends that the
Insured's birthdate is July 11, 1943, meaning that she
was 59 years old when she purchased the Policy. Farmers, on
the other hand, argues that the Insured's birthdate is
May 27, 1933, meaning that the Insured was 69 years old at
the time the Policy was purchased. If Farmers is correct,
then the Insured was ineligible to purchase the Policy
because her age exceeded the Policy's maximum age at the
time of issue.
9, 2003, Farmers' independent agent, Daniel Stocker
(“Stocker”) met the Insured and several of her
relatives at the Insured's residence to apply for the
Policy. First Whitley Aff. [Docket No. 44] Ex. A
(“Stocker Dep.”) 10:11-14. Stocker completed the
application, filling in the answers as he asked the questions
to the Insured. During this application process, Yang claims
that Stocker was told that the Insured had two birthdates: a
May 27, 1933 birthdate that Yang contends was arbitrarily
assigned by United States immigration officials, and a July
11, 1943 birthdate documented on the Insured's Laotian
birth records. Nao Yang Aff. [Docket No. 49] ¶ 8.
Yang (“Nao”), the Insured's son-in-law,
testified that Stocker was directly asked which birthdate
should be placed on the application and Stocker responded
that the July 11, 1943 date of birth should be used.
Id.; Vang Aff. [Docket No. 50] ¶ 7.
does not recall being told that the Insured had two different
birthdates. Stocker Dep. at 26:20-25. Stocker also testified
that in his fifteen years as a Farmers agent, he could not
recall a situation where an insured had two different dates
of birth. Id. at 29:23-30:7. Rather, Stocker
testified that when he asked for the Insured's birthdate,
she stated that her birthdate was July 11, 1943. Id.
at 21:12-16. Stocker also recalled receiving supporting
documents from Laos that showed a July 11, 1943 date of
birth. Id. at 12-16.
Terms and Conditions
Policy has a maximum issue age limit of 60 years old, meaning
only individuals under age 60 are eligible to purchase the
Policy. Consistent with Minnesota law, the Policy includes a
misstatement of age or sex provision and an incontestability
provision. The Policy's misstatement of age or sex
provision provides, “[i]f the insured's age or sex
was misstated, the amount payable will be that which the
premiums paid would have purchased at the correct age or
sex.” Second Whitley Aff. [Docket No. 54] at 7. The
incontestability provision states that Farmers “will
not contest this policy after it has been in force for two
years from the date of issue during the insured's
lifetime except for nonpayment of premiums. This provision
does not apply to any additional benefits for disability or
accidental death.” Id.
The Insured Purchases the Unity Policy
2007, the Insured applied for a whole life insurance policy
with Unity Financial Life Insurance Company
(“Unity”). Klosowski Decl. [Docket No. 40] Ex. H.
The Unity application reflects the Insured's birthdate as
May 27, 1933, the date that Yang claims was arbitrarily
assigned by United States immigration officials. Id.
The Insured Dies and Beneficiaries Make Claims
Insured died in Laos on February 11, 2014. Yang then made a
claim to Farmers for death benefits under the Policy that had
been purchased in 2003. On July 16, ...