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Ledger's Life Insurance Co: Suicide = No Cash

9/29/2008 6:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Heath LedgerThe company that wrote Heath Ledger's $10 million life insurance policy is being sued after claiming the actor's death might have been a suicide, even though officials concluded it was accidental. Lawyers for Ledger's daughter say it's a transparent ploy to avoid paying the money.

ReliaStar Life Insurance Company wrote the policy in June 2007 -- six months before Ledger died. The beneficiary of the policy is a trustee who would hold the money for 2-year-old Matilda.

Instead of paying the $10 mil, ReliaStar set out to investigate whether Ledger took his own life, despite the fact that the New York City Medical Examiner ruled the death accidental.

TMZ has obtained a lawsuit, filed by Matilda's trustee, claiming ReliaStar (owned by ING Americas) has acted in bad faith by not promptly paying the $10 million and by wrongfully prying into the life of Heath Ledger after his death.

Sources say lawyers for the insurance company have claimed Ledger's death was "suspicious" -- possibly suicide, which would nullify the policy. The company alleges in its answer to the lawsuit, "ReliaStar is entitled to investigate Plaintiff's claim to determine if the 'Suicide' provision is applicable." That provision states, "If the Insured commits suicide ... we will pay only the amount of premiums paid to us."

ReliaStar's lawyers have informed Matilda's lawyers they intend to take the depositions of Mary-Kate Olsen, as well as the masseuse who was at Ledger's home when he died, Ledger's colleagues on his last film, his agents, doctors, psychologists and others. Lawyers for Matilda believe the insurance company is trying to scare and shame them into submission. They believe ReliaStar is trying to drag the process out, for what could be years, to avoid paying the money.

We're also told ReliaStar believes Ledger may have lied on two questions on his insurance application -- specifically, whether he was taking prescription drugs when he filled out the application and whether he ever used illegal drugs.

In its answer to the lawsuit, ReliaStar claims it can contest the policy if Ledger lied on the application and it was a "material misrepresentation." Sources tell us Ledger had a prescription for Ambien when he filled out the application, but Ambien was not in his system when he died, nor were any illegal drugs.

Lawyers for Matilda's trust claim ReliaStar is flagrantly violating California law, which prohibits insurance companies from re-examining insurance applications after the policyholder dies. In the lawsuit, Matilda's lawyers say they received a letter from ReliaStar, asking them to identify "all physicians who attended to [Ledger] and all hospitals or institutions where [he] was treated since 1996." Matilda's lawyers say the request blatantly violates the law.

An official for ReliaStar told TMZ, "No decision has been made on the claim." But lawyers for Matilda's trust believe ReliaStar should have already paid and, according to the suit, is acting "maliciously, fraudulently and/or oppressively ... depriving plaintiff of the insurance policy benefits."

73 COMMENTS

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1.

Heene    

I don't think it was suicide.

2123 days ago
2.

Erin    

I don't think it was suicide either! Typical insurance company doesn't want to give up the money...

2123 days ago
3.

Ashley    

LEAVE HEATH ALONE!

2123 days ago
4.

TheMizzz    

Freaking disgusting, period.

2123 days ago
5.

Beth    

Why is everything nowadays an accidential overdose. Call it what it is, he took too many drugs!! Hell, back in the 70's it was called an "OD" no accident you knew what you were doing. I don't think it was a suicide just a stupid deceision!

2123 days ago
6.

RussJFK    

Come on insurance companies! If someone kills himself, just pay off the policy, as you should do to begin with! Suicidals are sick, or become sick and should be covered in a policy! Like any other medical condition. You bastards, pay up, do the right thing!!

2123 days ago
7.

:what ev errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr    

Matilda will be an adult before they ever get this settled. I hate insurance companies..............

2123 days ago
8.

two cents    

Why can't they let Heath Rest In Peace? Not only should they pay out the benefits, they should be fined for trying to play games. Punish them when they do this stuff. Unbelievable!

2123 days ago
9.

DallasB    

So in essence this ins. co. doesn't believe what the OFFICIAL MEDICAL EXAMINER officially stated on the DEATH CERTIFICATE after heavy investigation of their own???! This ins. co. is clearly trying to get out of paying the policy....ins. co.'s are notorious for this!!!! I will make sure to spread the word regarding this company....it's ridiculous and sad to put a family through this....after all is sad and done.....just cruel!

2123 days ago
10.

midi    

man. ins co rules above court.

2123 days ago
11.

B    

Heath Ledger did not die from taking to many pills he died from the pills he took interacting. That's not sucide, sucide is killing yourself cause you have nothing to live for, Heath just mixed the wrong pills to get some sleep. He should have been seeing a sleep expert and not self medicating to sleep. The insurance company can't stand he only paid for a 10 million policy for 6 months, and now they have to pay out. Unlike most of us, who practically pay the policy off in premiums by the time it's needed. Matilda's lawyers will settle it and get the money. I am sure Michelle has the best lawyers on the case to ensure her daughters future.

2123 days ago
12.

littlestich    

Hope the insurance company has to pay double. I also hope everyone writes down the name of the company - never gives them business, and their exisiting customers take notice at how they treat families after a policy holder dies.

2123 days ago
13.

LR    

Remember that all those guys in the Batman movie donated their profits to her...she wont lack for much. NOT that she doesnt deserve the insurance money, she does. Just saying she wont be in the poor house :)

2123 days ago
14.

LeeLee    

From Politicians, police and Insurance Companies....I beleive that they are all CROOKS.
Seriouslly. There is a 2 year old who will never see her Dad again and they do this now....WHATEVER.
The reason for Insurance is for many reasons and this was one of them. Good for Heath for being a responsible adult to even get Life Insurance. How many of us out there right now can say they have life insurance??? May Heath rest in peace and I hope all this settles real soon for the little princess and here family. My blessings goes to them.

2123 days ago
15.

MercyHumppe    

Oh yes, the mean old evil insurance company taking advantage of the poor little girl... Boo hoo hoo. People are such saps!

This insurance company would be foolish not to investigate Heath. He did lie on his application as he has been FILMED at a party with cocaine for Entertainment Tonight. ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. This was not a guy who was discreet with his drug use, in fact, everyone knows he was a junkie. Whether or not he had drugs in his system when he died, he had been using for years and his system was shot. That is why he died. People who think he died of an overdose on prescription drugs must also believe that "Al-Qaida" was behind 9-11.

2123 days ago
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