Trief & Olk Victorious on Appeal in $3 Million Life Insurance Case

UPDATED NOVEMBER 11, 2020: Trief & Olk defeated a second challenge to its successful $3 million verdict against William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York (“William Penn”).  On September 15, 2020, the New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) rejected William Penn’s motion to hear its appeal of the decision of the appellate court issued in February 2020, cementing Trief & Olk’s trial victory.



Trief & Olk successfully defeated a challenge to the $3 million verdict it had obtained in a suit brought against William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York (“William “Penn”), relating to William Penn’s denial of the claim for payment of the proceeds under two policies insuring the life of Jhonny Jaar.  William Penn argued that Mr. Jaar had made material misrepresentations on the applications for his policies regarding his history of smoking and drug use, and that they would not have issued the policies if they had known about this alleged behavior.


The parties tried the case without a jury in June 2018 before Justice Francis A. Kahn III of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Bronx County, who issued his memorandum opinion on October 22, 2018. You can read the opinion here. Justice Kahn found that William Penn did not meet its burden to establish that Mr. Jaar had made any material misrepresentation on the life insurance applications and therefore was obligated to pay the $3 million (plus interest) owed under the terms of the policies.  William Penn appealed that determination.


In an opinion issued on February 27, 2020, a three-judge panel of Appellate Division of the First Department, unanimously affirmed the findings of Justice Kahn, ruling that William Penn’s challenges to the trial court’s evidentiary rulings had no merit.  In particular, the Court found that the testimony of William Penn’s forensic expert, Dr. Michael Baden, was unreliable because he based his opinion in part on hearsay evidence – purported statements of Mr. Jaar’s widow – that is not typically relied upon by the medical profession.


If you recently lost a loved one who had life insurance for which payment was denied or which you fear may be denied, the life insurance attorneys at Trief & Olk are available to answer your questions and represent you if life insurance has been denied. Feel free to consult our website for examples of the many successes we have had when life insurance companies denied payment or call us directly to discuss how we may help you.