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Here Ye! Here Ye!

The Case: Lost Life Insurance

Was a policy payout perfectly legal—or a shady scam?

woman holding head

— Mark Zingarelli

The Verdict

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit noted that Joy Morehead was relying on the North Carolina law stating that “unlicensed persons who contract to provide services for which a license is required may not recover on the contract.” But the court found that Joy was mistaken in relying on this law, which applied only to money that was still owed under a contract. In Joy’s case, the contract had been signed and the $21,000 dollars paid to her. The investors had been paying the premiums for two years. The court refused to undo the contract because that would unfairly harm the investors, and bring Joy an additional windfall.

The court also considered Joy’s claim that Robin Hood and Fewkes had committed unfair and deceptive trade practices. They were unlicensed and had not complied with other parts of the North Carolina law such as providing the Moreheads with a viatical brochure. While the court found that Robin Hood and Fewkes had committed those violations of the law, it ruled that Joy had not suffered any damages as a result.

Today, Joy Morehead has her three children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren nearby. She knows there’s nothing to be done about Ralph’s life insurance, but cautions others, “Never sign anything unless you have someone who can explain everything to you, because it can be a scam.”

Robin Gerber is a lawyer and the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.

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