A New York and New Jersey Lawyer Who Represents Policyholders and Beneficiaries in Life Insurance Denial Cases

A Florida judge has ruled that Mesac Damas, 34, who confessed to killing his 32-year-old wife and their 5 children children, cannot receive her $100,000 life insurance policy.

The woman took out the insurance policy while working at Publix, a Florida supermarket chain. The judge ordered that her mother will receive the proceeds. Demas had already signed a release that gave up all of his rights to the policy.

According to a news article, Demas “blamed his wife, brainwashing and an evil spirit for the slayings.” The couple had been to domestic violence court three times in the ten years they had been together.

Florida’s “slayer statute” prevents a beneficiary who is involved with the death of a person to receive the life insurance proceeds. The law is triggered by a criminal conviction, but a judge can also stop the distribution of the proceeds to a beneficiary if it is determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the person played a role in causing the death and his or her actions were unlawful and intentional. Here, the insurance proceeds were being held awaiting the court’s decision.

As is evident, the law is targeted at people who intentionally kill an insured, but does not apply to those who may have unintentionally been involved with the death, such as perhaps, a husband driving a car involved in an accident in which he survives but the wife dies.

Laws of this type make a whole lot of sense, since the mere existence of life insurance can motivate some beneficiaries to hasten the death of the insured, if you will. Of course, the deaths in this particular case are horrible and truly tragic, and there is no evidence that Demas was motivated to kill his wife to receive the insurance policy, given his irrational and insane justification mentioned above and the fact that he signed away his rights to the policy. Further, one would hope that beneficiaries would not be driven to plot the death of an insured just to recover the life insurance proceeds. Nevertheless, it has happened more than once in the past and it remains a concern for society as a whole. It is, therefore, ethical and reasonable for the state to enact laws that take away all incentives for someone to kill or plot the killing of an insured for their own pecuniary benefit.

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