Widow may appeal ruling on insurance

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The widow of a Philadelphia Flyers hockey player who died in a boating accident can move forward with her appeal of a Philadelphia judge's ruling that she cannot sue her late husband's insurers for accidental-death proceeds.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Albert J. Snite Jr., who dismissed Polina Tertyshnaya and her minor son's case against her late husband Dmitri Tertyshny's insurers, clearing the way for an appeal, issued an order Jan. 16 adopting his earlier opinion. Judge Snite has ruled that Ms. Tertyshnaya's claims were time-barred.

The defendants in the case include Standard Security Life Insurance Co. of New York, HCC Specialty Underwriters Inc. and American Specialty Underwriters Inc.

In his opinion, Judge Snite wrote that Ms. Tertyshnaya's allegations that the defendants' alleged failure to pay accidental death and dismemberment benefits constituted fraudulent concealment were unfounded.

"None of these unsupported allegations are sufficient to show that the statute of limitation on [Ms. Tertyshnaya's] claims should have been tolled under the concealment doctrine," Judge Snite said.

Tertyshny died July 23, 1999, in a freak boating accident while attending Flyers summer training camp in Canada, after falling overboard and being sliced by a boat propeller.

According to Judge Snite, Ms. Tertyshnaya claimed to have purchased a disability, accidental death and dismemberment policy from the insurers in March 1999, and at no time since has Ms. Tertyshnaya received benefits.

Upon learning of Tertyshny's death, the insurers took steps to cancel his disability policy. Judge Snite said that the defendants wrote to Tertyshny's agent, Jay Grossman, with a copy of the total disability policy and a refund for the premium for permanent total disability benefits.

According to Judge Snite, Ms. Tertyshnaya was aware of her right to recovery at the time of her husband's death. "Furthermore," Judge Snite said, Ms. Tertyshnaya "was on notice that no death benefits were included in the policy and that no death benefits were to be issued by [the] insurance defendants."

Ms. Tertyshnaya alleged that the defendants "stonewalled" her requests for a copy of the policy.

Judge Snite added that while the court was sympathetic to Ms. Tertyshnaya's language barrier, "the court cannot allow this as a sufficient excuse."

P.J. D'Annunzio: pdannunzio@alm.com or 1-215-557-2315. Read more stories like this at www.legalintelligencer.com.

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