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California woman alleges Great American Life guilty of elder abuse

By Robbie Hargett | Jan 21, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A California woman is suing an insurance company, alleging it uses unlawful sales practices with senior purchasers in the state.

Joyce Goertzen, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit Dec. 15 in Superior Court of the State of California County of Alameda against Great American Life Insurance Company and Does 1-50, alleging financial elder abuse and other violations of California business codes.

The suit alleges the defendants' policies sold to senior citizens in California contain hidden penalties that are imposed if the policy is fully or partially surrendered prior to maturity.

The suit claims these surrender penalties offset high sales agent commissions, ensuring the defendants earn profits on policies sold to senior citizens.

The suit further alleges the defendants use misleading disclosures to discourage seniors from canceling their policies within the 30-day "free look" period.

Goertzen and others in the class seek restitution, injunction, compensatory damages, special and general damages, punitive and exemplary damages, attorney fees, and costs of the suit. They are represented by attorneys Ingrid M. Evans and Michael A. Levy of Evans Law Firm in San Francisco.

The defendant filed Jan. 14 to have the case removed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Oakland Division because of diversity of citizens between the parties, the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and the number of class members exceeds 100.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California-Oakland Division case number 4:16-CV-00240-YGR

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