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Rafert v. Meyer
Nebraska Supreme Court
859 N.W.2d 332 (2015)
Jlee Rafert (coplaintiff) set up a trust for her four daughters (coplaintiffs) naming her attorney, Robert Meyer (defendant), as trustee. The trust contained three insurance policies on Rafert’s life totaling $8.5 million. Exculpatory clauses provided that the trustee had no duty to pay insurance premiums, notify beneficiaries of their nonpayment, and held no liability for nonpayment. The trust also relieved Meyer of providing inventories or accountings, except annual statements. Meyer did not explain these trust provisions to Rafert. Meyer filled out each insurance application, listing the trust as the owner under a false address in another state, possibly to avoid Nebraska taxes. Rafert paid over $250,000 in initial premiums in 2009. She paid the same amount in 2010 to an insurance agent who never forwarded the payments to the insurers. Because the insurers sent mail to the false address, Rafert and Meyer did not receive notice that the polices had lapsed until August 2012. Rafert and her daughters sued Mayer for breach of fiduciary duties and loss of over $500,000 in premiums. The trial court dismissed, reasoning that the exculpatory clauses excused Meyer’s failures, and his actions did not cause the loss. Rafert and her daughters appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wright, J.)
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