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Mendenhall v. Bankers Life and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 12, 2014

MICHAEL L. MENDENHALL, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, and CNO FINANCIAL GROUP, INC. (f/k/a Conseco Inc.), a Delaware corporation, Defendants. BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, an Illinois Corporation, Counterclaim-Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL L. MENDENHALL, an individual, Counterclaim-Defendant.

RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the court on "Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment" (Doc. No. 86 [Mot.], filed September 4, 2013), filed by Defendant CNO Financial Group, Inc., and Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff Bankers Life and Casualty (collectively "Bankers Life"). Plaintiff did not file a response. This motion is ripe for recommendation and ruling.

BACKGROUND

In this case, Plaintiff sues Defendants for breach of deferred compensation agreement, breach of employment agreement, and declaratory judgment, stemming from Defendants' alleged failure to compensate him after Defendants terminated his employment in 2010. ( See generally Doc. No. 3 [Compl.])

STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

Plaintiff's Employment With Bankers Life

1. Defendant Bankers Life ("Bankers Life") markets and distributes Medicare supplement insurance, interest-sensitive life insurance, traditional life insurance, fixed annuities, and long-term care insurance products to the middle-income senior market through a dedicated field force of career agents and sales managers supported by a network of community-based branch offices. (Compl., ¶ 6; Doc. No. 12 [Answer], ¶ 6.)

2. Plaintiff worked for Bankers Life from approximately July 1, 1983, to October 15, 2010. (Mot., Ex. 1, Aff. of Michael Moffatt ["Moffatt Aff."], ¶ 2.)

3. At the time of his termination, Plaintiff was employed as a Unit Sales Manager at Branch #5053 in Greenwood Village, Colorado. ( Id. )

Plaintiff's Agreements With Bankers Life

4. On October 4, 1983, Plaintiff entered into an Agent Contract with Bankers Life. ( Id., ¶ 3; see also Ex. 1-1 [1983 Agent Contract].)

5. The 1983 Agent Contract states that:

(b) The General Agent may terminate this contract immediately "for cause." "For cause" means any violation by the Agent of the terms of this contract and includes, but is not limited to, fraud, failure to remit funds, or failure to secure and maintain necessary licenses.
(c) If this contract is terminated for cause as herein defined, no commissions or other compensation or allowances shall be payable.

(1983 Agent Contract, ¶ 18 [emphasis added].)

6. Although Plaintiff's Agent Contract was periodically updated over the years, each agreement contained nearly identical language defining the phrase "for cause" to include fraud as well as prohibiting Plaintiff from receiving any further compensation or benefits if he was terminated "for cause." (Moffatt Aff., ¶ 4.)

7. Although Plaintiff does not identify which employment agreement he is relying on in his Complaint, the most recent Agent Contract that Plaintiff signed went into effect in January 2006. ...


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