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Gravalin v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance

January 13, 2009

DONNA GRAVALIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RELIANCE STANDARD LIFE INSURANCE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, Chief Judge United States District Court

TING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court are the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment filed on August 29, 2008, and the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment filed on September 2, 2008. See Docket Nos. 16 and 20. The Defendant filed a response to the Plaintiff's motion on September 26, 2008. See Docket No. 23. The Plaintiff filed a response to the Defendant's motion on September 29, 2008, and a reply brief on October 3, 2008. See Docket Nos. 25 and 26. Oral arguments on the motions were held on January 8, 2009. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the Defendant's motion and grants the Plaintiff's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Robert Gravalin was born on February 20, 1941. He worked for Robert Gibb & Sons in Fargo, North Dakota from 1987 to 1999, when he became totally disabled. While employed by Robert Gibb & Sons, Robert Gravalin was insured under two group life insurance policies (GL 32908 and VG 3904) issued by the defendant, Reliance Standard Life Insurance.*fn1 Prior to Robert Gravalin's death, coverage under both policies had been extended in accordance with the terms of a waiver of premium provision because Gravalin had become totally disabled in 1999. Robert Gravalin named his wife, Donna Gravalin, as the beneficiary of the policies. The group life insurance policies contain two provisions that are pertinent to this action.

Each group life insurance policy contains a "Waiver of Premium in the Event of Total Disability" provision that allows an insured to extend insurance coverage during a period of total disability. See Docket No. 18-2, pp. 23, 49. The waiver provision for policy VG 3904 provides in relevant part:

[Reliance Standard Life Insurance] will extend the Amount of Insurance during a period of Total Disability for 1 year if:

(1) the employee becomes Totally Disabled prior to age 60;

(2) the Total Disability lasts for at least 6 months in a row;

(3) [Reliance] receive[s] proof of Total Disability within 1 year from the date it began; and

(4) the premium continues to be paid during the 6 month period....

The insurance extended will cease on the earliest of:

(1) the date the employee is no longer Totally Disabled;

(2) the date the employee refuses to be examined;

(3) the date the employee fails to furnish the required proof of ...


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