Law School Case Brief
Lopez v. Life Ins. Co. - 406 So. 2d 1155 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1981)
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action is addressed solely to the allegations of the complaint. Those allegations well pleaded must be taken as true for purposes of determining whether the motion should be granted. The sole question to be determined by the trial court is whether or not the complaint states a cause of action. This is a question of law.
Gladys M. Lopez, the wife of plaintiff Jim F. Lopez, obtained numerous life insurance policies on Mr. Lopez's life from defendant Life Insurance Company of America ("Insurer"). Mrs. Lopez later kidnapped Mr. Lopez and attempted to murder him, purportedly for the insurance proceeds. Mr. Lopez filed an action against the Insurer in Florida state court alleging that his wife fraudulently obtained his signature on the applications by stating that she was obtaining accidental health insurance for him. Mr. Lopez contended that the Insurer negligently issued the policies without first conducting a proper investigation into the financial worth of the family. He further alleged that the Insurer was negligent in failing to take any action to investigate his warning that the beneficiary of the policies, his wife, was plotting to murder him. The trial court granted the Insurer's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action.
Did the trial court properly grant the motion to dismiss?
The appellate court reversed, holding that the Insurer had a duty to Mr. Lopez not to issue a life insurance policy on his life without his knowledge and consent. The court noted that the issue of knowledge and consent was a factual issue and was not disposable on a motion to dismiss. Thus, because there were unresolved factual issues, dismissal was inappropriate.
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