NEWARK (CN) – A federal class of defense contractors claim that Prudential Insurance teamed up with their employers to sell them worthless policies encumbered by wartime exclusions.
Lead plaintiffs Alexander Menkes and Stephen Wolfe say they began working for Westar Aerospace & Defense Group at the U.S. airbase stationed out of Kirkuk, Iraq, after finishing their stints with the military.
Westar, as an agent for defense contractor QinetiQ, offered both veterans a basic package of benefits upon their hiring.
In addition to the basics, Menkes and Wolfe also had the opportunity to purchase additional Prudential policies: Buy-Up Long Term Disability, Supplemental Term Life Insurance and Supplemental Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance.
Although these policies cost a premium every month, Menkes and Wolfe say Prudential, Westar and QinetiQ assured them that the policies “would provide … coverage and protection while plaintiffs and members of the class performed their job duties in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.”
In reality, however, the additional Prudential policies all contained “exclusions from coverage based upon ‘disability due to war, declared or undeclared, or any act of war,” the 50-page complaint states.
Menkes seeks to represent a subclass for clients whose claims Prudential denied. He claims that he filed a claim with Prudential for disability benefits after suffering “a lumbar back injury, a positive test for exposure to tuberculosis that required long-term antibiotic therapy, and post-traumatic stress disorder manifesting in symptoms, including but not limited to, insomnia, stress and nightmares he suffered as a result of exposure to rocket attacks, mortars and gunfire from January 2009 through July 2009.”
Prudential refused to distribute benefits from any of the three additional policies it had sold Menkes, telling him the injuries he sustained were due to an “occupational sickness,” which was a “contractual provision of the war exclusion,” according to the complaint.
Prudential and QinetiQ reaped “excessive profits” by selling insurance policies that had “diminished or no value” for the defense contractors they targeted, according to the suit.
While raking in premiums for “worthless” coverage, clients could not receive “disability coverage for their lost income and/or benefits suffered due to injuries, death and/or dismemberment occurring in the ‘wartime’ conditions and/or as a result ‘acts of war’ in Iraq and/or Afghanistan where they were performing job duties know, intended and expected to be performed by the defendants,” the complaint states.
The class seeks punitive damages for consumer fraud, breach of contract, misrepresentation, and violations of the Truth Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act.
It is represented by Andrew Bell with Locks Law Firm, of Cherry Hill.