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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Like a Bad Fairy Tale

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (CN) - In a complaint that reads like a classic fairy tale, children say their stepmother hid their father's death from them and wrongfully collected his life insurance money.

Zachary, Elias and Jacob Friederich say their stepmother, Anne Bailey, cut off all communication they had with their ailing father, who had a malignant brain tumor, for several months before his death.

Bailey, who was married to their father for 2½ years before he died, allegedly hid his death on Dec. 20, 2004 from his kids.

"Following the death of James Friederich, Anne Bailey proceeded to make visitation and funeral arrangements for decedent James Friederich, and intentionally failed to notify plaintiff, children of the decent, directly or indirectly, of such arrangements," the complaint states.

"Additionally, Anne Bailey intentionally published an obituary for James Friederich, and falsely stated, by omission, that James Friederich was not survived by his three sons, the plaintiffs Zachary Friederich, Elias Friederich and Jacob Friederich."

The children say they did not learn of their father's death until some time afterward, when a relative called to express their condolences.

They say Bailey took advantage of their father's weakened state to persuade him to make her the beneficiary of his life insurance policy with Minnesota Life.

"Upon information and belief, at the time James Friederich changed the beneficiary designation of the insurance policy to Anne Bailey, he was in a state of poor health because of his advancing brain tumor, was both physically and mentally weak, was in a state of disrepair and helplessness, was in a severely weakened state both physically and mentally, and was easily influenced, all of which was well known to Anne Bailey," the complaint states. "Furthermore, at such time James Frederich was under the influence of drugs, painkillers and sedatives, which further insulated his perceptiveness from reality."

The children ask a judge to void the designation of Bailey as the beneficiary of James Friederich's life policy and name them the beneficiaries. They also seek damages for emotional distress from not being able to attend their father's visitation and funeral. They are represented by Terry Brown of Belleville, Ill.

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