Widow Wins. Employer Loses.
When Kirk Foster died he was disabled and terminally ill with cancer. American Marine, his employer, knew it had stopped paying life insurance premiums for him and when it had last paid them. American also knew that, Kirk could, if wanted to, continue life insurance coverage, but Kirk would have to pay the premiums himself.
It was not enough for American just to send him a summary plan description after he was discharged. In fact, the summary plan description was itself ambiguous.
American had instead to convey to complete and accurate information "material to Kirk's circumstance."
When American stopped paying premiums for Kirk's life insurance coverage, it should have realized that Kirk needed to know it and also precisely how he could continue his coverage.
The Appeals Court reversed a summary judgment entered for American and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings.
See Estate of Kirk Anthony Foster v. American Marine SVS Group Benefit Plan, et al. (9th Cir. March 11, 2021).