The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 3/18/9

Almost a decade ago, Dr. Edsel Stewart, 73, of McComb, thought he had bought some life insurance to protect his children from estate taxes.

Specifically, Stewart thought he bought a $1 million life insurance policy from Prudential Life Insurance for a premium of $105,000 per year. Stewart thought he had given agent James Bateman of JMB Financial Group a check for an initial premium of $20,000 and his completed set of insurance documents on Aug. 31, 1999.

On one of those documents, Stewart wrote: “I believe this contract meets my insurance needs and financial objectives.”

But on Sept. 1, 1999, Dr. Stewart suffered a massive stroke. He lingered in a coma for about seven weeks and then died.

The Stewart family tried to collect on the policy, but Prudential balked – claiming that the $20,000 payment to Bateman was not a premium payment but a fee for estate planning. The company further argued that the policy had not been finalized.

Finally, the company argued that the policy Bateman gave Stewart was not the actual policy, but a counter offer.

Litigation ensued.