Buggy Website Cheats Spouse of Life Ins., Action Alleges
6-27-2019 20:11:00

ALAMEDA, Calif. (CN) – Despite a long record of consistent beneficiary designation, a Kaiser employee’s spouse is being cheated out of his wife’s life insurance due to a buggy internet portal, according to an action filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

Steven D. French sued Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Diane King, Kaiser Permanente, and Mercer, also known as Mercer BenefitsCentral, for declaratory relief on written contract.

French says that Metropolitan Life Insurance is the company that provides insurance contracts to Kaiser employees in Alameda County, California, according to the action. 

French worked for Kaiser for 25 years as a respiratory therapist and retired in 2016. French was married to his wife Cheryl for 20 years, until her death in May of this year. His wife worked for Kaiser for 28 years as an administrative trainer, the suit states.

French says in his suit that the long-standing practice during their marriage was to name each other as primary beneficiaries on insurance policies, with secondary beneficiaries listed as his brother for Steven French, and her mother, Diane King, for Cheryl French.

In 2018, Kaiser instructed Cheryl to make her beneficiary designation through its internet portal instead of on paper, according to the action. She was having difficulty doing so and asked her husband to advise her. French says he observed “that the web portal was buggy and was scrambling the identities of beneficiaries and their addresses. This scrambling resulted in the combining of the address of plaintiff with the name of Diane King,” French’s complaint claims.

Kaiser did not “provide any quality control assurance over the beneficiary designation through the buggy website by either obtaining the consent of the spouse or questioning the change of the long standing practice of Cheryl Ann French to name her husband as beneficiary,” the suit states.

Because the plaintiff did not consent to any #1 beneficiary other than himself, “one-half of the beneficiary payout from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company belongs to plaintiff due to his community contribution under California law,” the action alleges.

French says defendant Mercer is responsible for the buggy Kaiser website portal. Due to the mistaken beneficiary designation, defendant King now claims the payout after her daughter’s death and disputes French’s “contention that he should be paid 100% of the identified benefits,” the suit states, “one-half of the contract benefits due to his community contribution and to the other one-half of the contract benefits due to the mistake in naming a #2 beneficiary as the #1 beneficiary due to a buggy internet portal.”

The plaintiff seeks a judicial ruling that the payout of benefits under the MetLife claim be made 100% payable to Steven D. French. 

The plaintiff is represented by Norman E. Reitz, in Hayward, California.