Practice Areas & Industries: Phillips Nizer LLP


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Phillips Nizer LLP's Life and Disability Insurance Law practice has provided counseling to and negotiation, alternative dispute resolution and litigation for major life and disability insurers for more than twenty-five years.

Noteworthy representations in this area include:

  • Obtained landmark ruling declaring that misrepresentation regarding smoking status is material and justified recision. Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co. v. JMR Electronics Corp., 848 F.2d 30 (2d Cir. 1988). This decision has been cited in nearly 50 opinions by six federal courts of appeals and state or federal courts in half a dozen states.
  • Secured determination in vanishing premium litigation that sales illustrations are barred from consideration under the parole evidence rule. Cappelli v. Berkshire Life Ins. Co., Supreme Court, West. Co., Index No. 1767/97, May 5, 1999 and February 23, 1999, aff'd., 276 A.D. 2d 458, 713 N.Y.S. 2d 756 (2d Dep't. 2000).
  • Developed functional economic analysis test adopted by court to determine "occupation" of professional who runs multiple office practice. Klein v. National Life of Vermont, 7 F. Supp.2d 223 (E.D.N.Y. 1998).
  • Established rule that investment manager had no fiduciary duty to plan participants under ERISA in complying with trustee's decision to terminate. Silverman v. Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co., 138 F.3d 98 (2d Civ. 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 876, 119 S. Ct. 178, 142 L. Ed. 2d 145 (1998).
  • Obtained ruling that carrier is not liable for fraud of its agent in selling policy. McGarry v. Miller, 158 A.D.2d 327, 550 N.Y.S.2d 896 (1st Dep't 1990).

In addition, the firm provides ongoing counseling and litigation services to life and disability insurers on matters such as disputes with agents and brokers, ERISA issues, group annuity questions, reinsurance arbitrations, advertising, portfolio restructurings and investigative inquiries from regulators. The firm is an associate member of the Life Insurance Council of New York.


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