When M. Smith was diagnosed with cancer and AIDS in the early 1990s, she was given two years to live. That she is still very much alive today is good news - to everyone but the people who bet big on her dying.
Had Smith perished on schedule, Life Partners Inc. would have made $60,000 on a $90,000 wager - a 66 percent return on the investment. Instead, the company that expected to make a profit on Smith's life insurance policy wound up spending $100,000 more keeping her alive.
Now, Life Partners' attempt to wriggle out of the relationship has led to one of the most morbid contract disputes ever filed in New Jersey Superior Court.
This is a pretty badly written article, in that I have a hard time telling who exactly is sueing whom, and on what basis, but I think what's going on is that the company is trying to simply pretend that they never had a contract with this woman in the first place. But the truly horrifying part is that this line of "investment" exists at all!
"They're not a charity. These people win by having her die fast. They were not counting on a revolution in the treatment of AIDS," notes Cohn, of the Cozen O'Connor firm, who took Smith's case for free.
Life Partners' president and General Counsel, Scott Peden, declined comment about the lawsuit - which he said he believes is the first of its kind in the company's 15-year history of helping "thousands of terminally ill patients."
We didn't buy her health insurance. There's no value there, it doesn't benefit us," Peden told me in a brief phone interview Friday.