May 6, 2004 – A recent increase in the cap on money heirs may get from an insurance company or a bank after the death of a family member without going through probate has particular bearing for parties to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Blue Cross-Blue Shield Insurance Co., according to attorney Maria T. Hodge.
The change in law raised the former limitation of $1,000 on such payments to $2,000.
As a result, Hodge said on Thursday, retired V.I. government employees ages 65 and older and their spouses who are entitled to recover as part of the class-action settlement will be able "to obtain the settlement proceeds of the deceased class members without going through probate."
Hodge was lead counsel for the group that brought the class-action suit.
She said Sen. Lorraine Berry agreed to sponsor the legislation changing the law "because it would be beneficial to potentially hundreds of persons whose family members had died before they received their share of the class-action settlement."
According to a release issued by Hodge on Thursday, more than 600 checks issued in accordance with the settlement remain outstanding and uncashed, amounting to more than $800,000 of the proceeds. She said she believes that many of the checks are payable to class members who died before the suit was filed or completed and whose heirs are entitled to their share of the proceeds.
Last December, a Territorial Court judge gave final approval to the distribution of checks to 2,950 class members, nearly a year after the $3.4 million settlement was reached. (See "Blue Cross class action members to get checks".)
She asked that anyone who has received a settlement check payable to a deceased family member call the law offices of Hodge & Francois at 774-6845 for assistance in preparing the documents necessary to secure a replacement check.
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