Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Nevada is Insane

My brother thinks I've gotten "too politcal."  I'm not exactly sure what he means, but in case he means that my blog is too politically-oriented, this post and the next will highlight some of my other interests.  For those of you who only care about politics, you can safely ignore this post. 

I just found a judicial opinion by the Nevada Supreme Court which leads me to conclude that Nevada is insane.  The case is Life Insurance Co. of North America v. Wollett, 766 P.2d 893 (1988).  It's the story of a woman who shot her husband to death November 5, 1985.  Nearly a month later, she was charged with murder.  On March 12 of the next year, she plea-bargained the charge down to involuntary manslaughter.  She was sentenced to six years in prison, which sentence was then suspended, and she was given five years probation.  In other words, no jail time for killing her husband. 

That's not the part of the story that is insane.

It turns out the husband, deceased, had two life insurance policies which named the wife as the beneficiary, totalling $220,000.  The wife notified the insurance companies of her husband's tragic demise, and said, "Give me my $220,000."  The insurance company said okay.  Then the wife sued to collect on another policy.

You might be thinking at this point, "Isn't a life insurance policy voided if you murder someone to get the money?"  I'm guessing that's the case in 49 states, but not in Nevada.  We have a statute that says an insurance company can only deny payment if the wife is convicted of killing her husband intentionally.  So if there's no conviction, she gets the money.  If she's convicted, pursuant to a plea-bargain, of involuntary manslaughter, she gets the money.

Here's the money quote: "Neither the legislative history nor common sense indicate that [the insurance statute] should be construed differently than [a statute dealing with decedent's estate]."  That's right, in addition to statutory construction, the Nevada Supreme Court actually appeals to common sense in holding that a woman can murder her husband in cold blood, plea bargain it down to involuntary manslaughter, and walk away with a bundle of cash to spend in, for example, Tahiti.  Common sense, indeed.