WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 21 (UPI) -- A suit filed in Florida this week alleges Walmart "used slight-of-hand" to exclude survivors of company employees from payouts on life insurance policies.
Walmart says it will look into the allegation but a spokesman said the company believes it had settled with estates of people on whom it had taken out -- and collected on -- life insurance police, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported.
The newspaper cites the case of Linda Gaub, whose husband died at 51 of a heart attack in 1994. She said Walmart took up a collection, provided Christmas gifts for her children and contributed to a project her husband had been involved in, a garden at an elementary school one of the couple's children attended.
Gaub said she was "floored" last year when she was notified Walmart had, without her knowledge, taken out a life insurance policy on her husband, the newspaper reported.
"Myself and my children were extremely upset that they had profited from his death," she said. "It's deplorable."
Gaub subsequently found out she would not be able to receive any of a $2 million Walmart last year agreed to pay in a settlement with others in Florida who found themselves in a similar situation.
Gaub's attorneys said Walmart collected between $75,000 and $150,000 on Ronald Gaub's life insurance policy and Linda Gaub was left out because under Florida law, only court-appointed estate administrators qualify for a share of such settlements, and Ronald Gaub had not left a will.
Attorney Scott Clearman told the Post Walmart knew, based on experienced outside Florida, that many employees died without wills.
"Walmart used slight-of-hand to conceal the lack of a settlement with Gaub and the people in her category," he said in the lawsuit, which asks a federal judge to certify the matter as a class-action lawsuit.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told the newspaper the company "acted in good faith through the settlement and believed we settled with all of the estates of individuals whose lives were insured."
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