$12 Million Awarded to Two California Senior Citizen Victims Of Insurance Sales Scam
May 30, 2023
Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) March 02, 2022 – Reif Law Group, P.C., California’s preeminent boutique trial and litigation law firm for securities and business disputes, today filed petitions to confirm two JAMS arbitration awards totaling $12,114,017.87 for two elderly victims of financial elder abuse against an insurance agency and its co-owners.
“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants. In this case, the amount awarded, a 17 times multiplier on the out-of-pocket losses, shines sunlight on the financial abuse the victims suffered,” said lead trial attorney, Brandon S. Reif, of Reif Law Group, P.C.
The disputes involved an insurance program, known as the IRA Reboot, which targeted vulnerable senior citizens visited by insurance agents in their homes. During these visits, the agents recommended the elderly clients to liquidate their assets, including retirement accounts, cash-on-hand, other insurance products, and securities, to invest in Future Income Payments, Inc. (FIP) and Minnesota Life Insurance Company (MLIC) life insurance policies.
California insurance agency, CMAM, Inc. dba Heritage Financial Services, and its co-owners, Alfred Manfre and Jeanette Manfre (Heritage), authorized their agents to sell the IRA Reboot to Gloria S. McKinnon and Emma A. McKinnon. The agents visited the elderly victims at their homes and convinced them to cash out their IRAs and other assets to invest in the IRA Reboot. Due to their poor health, the victims received substandard insurance rates, which were not discussed with them, and were not informed that the products they already owned offered better terms than the new insurance sold to them. The victims were told to make investments into FIP, falsely described in testimony as a safe holding bin to fund the premiums on MLIC’s life insurance policies.
The awards made findings that Heritage used pressure sales tactics, duress, and undue influence to take advantage of the elderly victims. In addition, the awards found that MLIC, through its independent marketing organization, Shurwest, LLC, endorsed the IRA Reboot for sale to customers and trained the insurance agents to sell the insurance to retired senior citizens in their homes.
As a result of Heritage’s financial elder abuse, Rodillas and McKinnon lost their retirement assets and the money they needed for their necessary care, health, and welfare totaling $716,256 in losses. They presented compelling testimony of their emotional and psychological distress, punitive damages, and other relief.
The awards found in favor of Rodillas and McKinnon on causes of action for financial elder abuse under California law, breach of fiduciary duty, and professional negligence.
The awards were categorized as $944,469 in economic damages, $1,209,200 in emotional distress damages, $6,461,007 in trebled damages, $1,472,000 in punitive damages and $2,027,341 in attorneys’ fees and costs totaling $12,114,017.87. The damages were trebled under California’s financial elder abuse statute. The lodestar on the attorneys’ fees awards was a 1.5 multiplier because the “amount of work and the quality of the work…were outstanding,” according to the award.
“Financial elder abuse strips seniors of their dignity and their life savings,” continued Mr. Reif. “This is the ‘ring the bell’ verdict that makes fighting for our vulnerable elderly community my great privilege.”
The court cases against Minnesota Life Insurance Company, Daniel Klein and Shurwest Holding Co. Inc., and others, will proceed to a jury trial.
Claimants Gloria S. Rodillas and Emma A. McKinnon are represented by Brandon S. Reif, Ohia A. Amadi, and Lisa M. Foutch of Reif Law Group, P.C. and Jon C. Furgison of Furgison Law Group, PC.
Respondents are represented by David J. Darnell and John Van Ackeren at Callahan & Blaine.
For more details of the cases, see Gloria S. Rodillas v. CMAM, Inc. dba Heritage Financial Services, et al, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. 19STCV21497 and Emma A. McKinnon v. CMAM, Inc. dba Heritage Financial Services, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. 19STCV21598.
About Reif Law Group, P.C
Reif Law Group, P.C. is California’s preeminent boutique trial and litigation law firm for securities and business disputes. The firm prosecutes and defends court and arbitration actions involving securities, investments, and real estate; professional liability; shareholder derivative; workplace harassment, discrimination, recruitment and Form U5; and business disruption and restraining order actions involving non-compete, non-solicit, and confidentiality clauses.
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