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Bob Carroll
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Insurance Company Fib Costs It $36 Million

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Prudential Insurance Company denied the existence of a $1 Million life insurance policy. The jury said the policy existed and assessed punitive damages for good measure.

Jury awards doctor’s family $36M

Life insurance company claimed doctor’s policy worth $1M didn’t exist

JACKSON (AP) — A Hinds County Circuit Court jury has awarded more than $36 million in damages in a lawsuit against Prudential Insurance Co.

The family of Dr. Edsel Stewart of McComb, who died in 1999 after his family claimed he had purchased a $1 million life insurance policy, filed the lawsuit before the state put a cap on jury awards beginning in January 2003.

Prudential Insurance Co. said a policy never existed, court papers say.

On Wednesday night, the jury awarded $1.4 million in compensatory damages and $35 million in punitive damages against Prudential. The insurance agent was assessed damages of $9,600.

“My father gave the insurance agent a check and signed papers,” said Dr. Larry Stewart of McComb. “He said he had bought insurance.”

Larry Stewart said that shortly after his father gave the agent money for a policy, the elder Stewart had a stroke, lapsed into a coma and died about seven weeks later at age 73.

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