United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Insurance — ERISA
Even though an insured’s life insurance policy was cancelled only after he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the insurer is entitled to summary judgment.
“While we are sympathetic to Maureen’s predicament, she has not presented enough evidence to raise a triable issue of fact on this point. Defendants presented an affidavit and documentary evidence that suggest Richard voluntarily acted to remove the supplemental life insurance from his benefits package. In addition, the record suggested he knew of the change because it was reflected in the pay stubs he received in the months leading up to this death. Maureen challenges this evidence by stating, in effect, that Richard could not have made such a change because no reasonable person would eliminate a life insurance policy after learning that it would soon pay out benefits. While Maureen is entitled, as the nonmoving party, to all reasonable inferences in her favor, ‘inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.’ Tubergen v. St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., Inc., 517 F.3d 470, 473 (7th Cir. 2008). That is all we have here. Beyond the timing of the cancellation, Maureen has not presented any evidence that GPI or ABC was responsible for the change in Richard’s benefits. But as we have said in other contexts, ‘[s]uspicious timing is rarely enough, by itself, to create a triable issue of fact.’ Peele v. Burch, 722 F.3d 956, 960 (7th Cir. 2013). A reasonable juror could not conclude that Defendants terminated Richard’s policy without his knowledge or consent based solely on the fact that the cancellation occurred after his cancer diagnosis. Maureen needed some evidence of Defendants’ involvement in the decision in order for a reasonable juror to conclude that Defendants, not Richard, terminated the policy. Because she presented no such evidence, the court correctly awarded summary judgment to Defendants.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Adelman, J., Williams, J.