Enterprise Financial Group, Inc., provided financing and credit life insurance to consumers who bought automobiles from a certain Oklahoma dealership. If purchased by a car buyer, the credit life insurance would pay off the customer's car loan in the event of his death. In March 1992, Milford Vining (Milford) purchased a jeep from the dealership. An Enterprise employee whose office was at the dealership sold a credit life insurance policy to Milford when he purchased the jeep. In late May 1993, Milford suffered a fatal heart attack. His surviving spouse, Billie Vining (Vining), filed a claim with Enterprise for death benefits of approximately $10,000 under Milford's credit life policy. Enterprise refused to pay the claim and rescinded the policy on the supposed ground that Milford had misrepresented his health history in his application for the credit life policy. After unsuccessfully contesting the rescission, Vining sued Enterprise for breach of contract and for rescinding the policy in bad faith. In defense, Enterprise maintained that it had a legitimate basis for contesting the claim and that Milford had made material misrepresentations in his application for the credit life policy. The evidence adduced at trial showed that in 1983, Milford suffered from coronary artery disease and underwent a triple bypass operation. After the surgery and follow-up tests, Milford began taking heart maintenance medication to prevent the occurrence of angina. From the time immediately following the 1983 surgery until the time of his death, Milford led an active life. He did not complain of chest pain or related symptoms. In February 1992, Milford visited Dr. Michael Sullivan. This visit took place because Milford, who had recently moved, wanted to find a doctor closer to home. Milford's visit to Dr. Sullivan was not brought on by illness or physical symptoms. At the general time of this visit, Milford suffered from little, if any, angina. Dr. Sullivan continued Milford on his heart maintenance medications as a preventive measure. When Milford applied for the credit life policy in March 1992, he signed an application that contained the following statement: I hereby certify that I am in good health as of the effective date above. I further certify that I do not presently have, nor have I ever had, nor have I been told I have, nor have I been treated within the preceding 12 months for, any of the following: any heart disease, or other cardiovascular diseases. The parties to the case agreed that Milford did not intend to missate any facts when he signed the application.
At trial, Vining presented evidence designed to show that Enterprise routinely rescinded credit life policies after insureds' deaths and that the rescission of Milford's policy fit into this pattern. If Vining were to win the case, what sorts of damages would she be entitled to receive? Should Vining win the case?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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