One of my cases is the subject of an article by Sean Batura in today’s Kerrville Daily Times (92 year old veteran says he was defrauded of wife’s life insurance). My client’s wife worked for an old, respected company, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative, Inc. in Ingram. She had very good life insurance – over $250,000. We’ll call her Shirley.
She was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 2014. Two of her coworkers – Mary Arhelger and Elizabeth Betty Drawe – became her “best friends” and went to the house two or three times a week. Drawe is the insurance benefits coordinator for the company. My 92 year old client, who was a flight engineer on bombers in the Pacific in WWII, fell and broke his hip. The day after he had surgery, and was still in the hospital, Arhelger and Drawe got Shirley to sign (maybe) a change of beneficiary that deleted her husband and named her “friend” Mary Arhelger. Drawe filled out the form, and showed Shirley – who was blind!! – where to sign. They actually admitted this in deposition testimony.
Shirley died four days later. Drawe aggressively tried to get the insurer to pay Arhelger, and they neglected to tell the husband anything about the change of beneficiary. I had to sue the insurer to get an injunction to keep it from paying the money to Arhelger.
My client had to borrow money to buy a headstone for his wife’s grave and has unpaid medical and other bills and the money’s tied up in the court.
Meanwhile, Hill Country Telephone continues to employ Arhelger and Drawe, whose job it is to assist employees apply for insurance and get their claims paid. Top management, including the president Randy Bass and Drawe's supervisor Bernice Fischer know all about this situation, and have not lifted a finger to help the 92 year old widower of their former employee.
I have sued Arhelger to have the change of beneficiary declared void. She and Drawe were fiduciaries and were required to treat Shirley fairly and equitably, to act in utmost good faith and with the most scrupulous honesty, to place Shirley's interest before their own and not use the advantage of their position to gain any benefit for themselves at the expense of Shirley, and to fully and fairly disclose all important information.
Sometimes I really do get sick of all the people who run around this town claiming to be good Bible reading Christians with small town Texas values.