June 20, 2023

Fishkin Lucks Wins Summary Judgment in the New Jersey Chancery Court

The Firm was awarded summary judgment today in the New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division (Essex County) on behalf of one its life insurance company clients, ending a nearly seven-year litigation in which the Firm’s client was alleged to have improperly administered ownership and beneficiary changes to over forty life insurance policies. The claims were brought by several warring factions of a family whose patriarch purchased the life policies and proceeded to manipulate their ownership and beneficiary designations through trusts that he improperly controlled, over the course of several decades. The warring factions brought claims against the Firm’s client sounding in negligence and breach of contract, alleging that it purportedly permitted the ownership and beneficiary changes, which they claimed were improper. After extensive discovery, the Chancery Court agreed with the Firm’s arguments that (i) the tort claims failed because they were based solely on allegations that the Firm’s client breached duties created in the relevant contracts (i.e., the life policies) and (ii) the contract claims were time-barred, because they were brought long after the challenged ownership and beneficiary designations and the parties bringing them were not entitled to the benefit of the discovery rule, because they were either parties to the contracts (i.e., the life policies) on which they were suing, or they were suing on the contracting parties’ behalves.