429 So.2d 1287 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1983), 80-1263, Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. McCarson

Docket Nº:80-1263.
Citation:429 So.2d 1287
Party Name:METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant/Cross Appellee, v. Ernest D. McCARSON, Sr., etc., et al., Appellees/Cross Appellants.
Case Date:April 06, 1983
Court:Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District
 
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Page 1287

429 So.2d 1287 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 1983)

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant/Cross Appellee,

v.

Ernest D. McCARSON, Sr., etc., et al., Appellees/Cross Appellants.

No. 80-1263.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District.

April 6, 1983

Rehearing Denied May 10, 1983.

Page 1288

Donald J. Sasser of Johnston, Sasser & Randolph, and William Pruitt, West Palm Beach, John G. Pare', Tampa, and Richard G. Mandell, New York, for appellant/cross-appellee.

Samuel D. Phillips, Thompson & Gesch, and Larry Klein, West Palm Beach, for appellees/cross-appellants.

ANSTEAD, Judge.

This is an appeal from a final judgment against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company awarding damages in a wrongful death action predicated upon Metropolitan's

Page 1289

alleged wrongful termination of medical insurance benefits. Metropolitan claims that the evidence was insufficient to support the award or, alternatively, that certain trial errors mandate a new trial. We affirm.

While we recognize that the facts were controverted, in determining the sufficiency of the evidence we are obligated to construe the evidence and the inferences therefrom most favorably to the prevailing party. Anchor Hocking Glass Corp. v. Allen, 161 So.2d 853 (Fla. 1st DCA 1964). Although this action was instituted in 1977, its roots reach back to 1973 when Metropolitan issued a group health insurance policy to Ernest McCarson's small paint and body shop business. Initially, Ernest McCarson was the insured, and Lucille McCarson, his wife, was one of three employees covered. After the initiation of this policy, it was discovered that Mrs. McCarson had Alzheimer's Disease, a progressive and degenerative brain disease which results in premature senility. In 1974 Metropolitan unilaterally terminated the policy claiming that the McCarsons had misrepresented Lucille McCarson's physical condition on the initial application. Subsequently, the McCarsons sued and recovered damages as well as a court order that the policy be reinstated and benefits paid in accord therewith. However, the controversy between the parties over coverage continued unabated.

Early in 1977 Mrs. McCarson's condition required her to have private nursing care in her home. Metropolitan was fully aware of this requirement and initially authorized the employment of a private nursing service. Metropolitan was also aware that the McCarsons had no other means to secure this nursing care. Metropolitan had direct dealings with the nursing service involved and paid claims for such services until April 5, 1977. Metropolitan thereafter withheld all monies due, claiming that there was a question of Mrs. McCarson's eligibility for Medicare which would in turn affect Metropolitan's obligation to pay for nursing services. During this same time, however, Metropolitan continued to accept premiums, and evidence was presented that Metropolitan knew that Mrs. McCarson was not eligible for Medicare and that Medicare did not cover home nursing services.

Metropolitan was repeatedly advised by the nursing service that unless payments were made the services would be terminated. Although Metropolitan continued to assure the nursing service that payments would be forthcoming, no such payments were made and, ultimately, on June 3, 1977, Mrs. McCarson's nursing services were terminated. Although Mr. McCarson initially...

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