Conseco/CNO Financial and Settlement and Lawsuits and Indiana Supreme Court and Law

Inlow estate decision reversed by high court

November 18, 2009

The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered some good news to the widow of former Conseco Inc. chief counsel Lawrence Inlow, reversing a lower court’s order that she pay his estate $284,034 for funeral expenses.

Inlow was killed in 1997 when he was struck in the head by a blade of a company helicopter. He had no will.

Anita Inlow paid the funeral and burial expenses herself, then was reimbursed by the estate. Lawrence Inlow’s four children from a previous marriage later sought to recover the money after the Carmel insurance company settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for nearly $885,000.

The widow argued that none of the proceeds from the wrongful-death settlement should be used for funeral and burial expenses because that purpose wasn’t specifically addressed in the settlement agreement.

If the money goes to the estate, as a Hamilton County trial court ordered in 2007, Anita Inlow said she won’t get any of the lawsuit proceeds since she already has settled her interest in the estate.

But the Supreme Court stopped short of saying the estate isn’t entitled to any reimbursement.

Instead, the high court ruled that a portion of the wrongful-death settlement proceeds should be applied toward those expenses, since Indiana’s Wrongful Death Act includes language that specifically refers to medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses as a component of total damages in such cases.

The Inlow case now goes back to the trial court to determine how much that will be.

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