U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan turned away claims byCheri Bond that the August 2005 death of her husband Steven was accidental and that he did not intend to hurt himself.
Zatkoff asserted thateven assuming that the participant’s death was accidental, the widow would not be entitled to benefits because the plan excluded coverage for self-inflicted injuries.
According to the ruling, Steven Bond was found dead in his home in Atlas Township, Michigan. He was in his basement office hanging from a black and orange nylon rope which had been connected to a hook attached to a floor joist in the ceiling of the basement.
Following his death,Cheri Bondsubmitted claims to MetLife under Steven Bond’s life insurance and ADD policies. MetLife paid her $220,000 for his life insurance policy but denied benefits under the ADD policy.
“Plaintiff does not dispute that Mr. Bond intentionally placed a rope around his neck, bound his hands and feet, and hung himself from his basement ceiling,” the court wrote. “Furthermore, Plaintiff does not dispute that Mr. Bond intentionally and knowingly restricted the blood flow from his head in a purposeful effort to limit his brain’s supply of oxygen. Plaintiff merely argues that Mr. Bond did not intend to die as a result of this practice.”
The case is Bond v. Ecolab Inc., E.D. Mich., No. 06-15072, 2/21/07.