Sons take stepmom and insurance company to court

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 2, 2005, 2:15am

Zachary, Elias and Jacob Friederich of St. Louis filed a lawsuit against Anne Bailey of Edwardsville alleging their step-mother deprived them access to their dying father and cut them out of his will.

James Friederich died of a malignant brain tumor on Dec. 20, 2004, after a three-year illness.

The Friederich children--who seek $50,000 from Bailey--are also suing Minnesota Life Insurance for their father's policy, alleging James Friederich succumbed to Bailey's pressure to change beneficiary designation to her only.

"At the time James changed the beneficiary designation of his insurance policy he was in a poor state of health because of his advancing brain tumor, and was both physically and mentally weak, and was in a state of despair and helplessness and was easily influenced by Bailey," according to the suit.

The sons, represented by Mark Belz of St. Louis and Terry Brown of Belleville, also claim Bailey "intentionally" failed to notify them of their father's death and kept them from participating in James Friederich's visitation and funeral.

They claim they did not learn of their father's death until a relative called to express condolences after reading his obituary in the newspaper.

“Bailey’s conduct was extreme and outrageous, exceeding all grounds usually tolerated by a person of ordinary sensibilities,” the complaint states.

The Friederich children allege Bailey "intended to inflict severe emotional distress on each of them and acted recklessly in deliberate disregard of a high degree of probability that emotional distress would result from her actions," the suit states.

“The actions of Bailey amounted to undue influence, and deprived James Friederich of the free exercise of his will, and he signed the new beneficiary designation without a full understanding of its legal and actual consequences,” according to the complaint.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran Jr.

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