Children claim stepmother failed to tell them father passed away

Kelly Holleran Apr. 13, 2011, 8:17am


Three St. Louis residents have filed suit against their deceased father's widow, alleging she kept them from attending his funeral and kept life insurance money from them.

Zachary Friederich, Elias Friederich and Jacob Friederich claim their father, James Friederich, married Anne Bailey about two and a half years before his death in 2004.

A few months before James Friederich's death, Bailey restricted his children from seeing him and cut off all his communication with his offspring, according to the complaint filed April 6 in Madison County Circuit Court.

On Dec. 20, 2004, James Friederich died from a brain tumor. Following his death, Bailey arranged his funeral and burial, but failed to invite his children to the proceedings and failed to inform them of their father's passing, the suit states.

"Plaintiffs Zachary Friederich, Elias Friederich and Jacob Friederich did not learn of the death and funeral for their father, James Friederich, until many days afterwards, when a relative called plaintiffs to express his condolences after the friend had read the obituary in the paper," the complaint says.

Because of Bailey's failure to inform the plaintiffs of their father's death, the plaintiffs claim they suffered emotional loss, mental anguish and emotional distress.

Not only did James Freiderich's sons lose the opportunity to attend their father's funeral, they also claim they lost out on life insurance benefits they should have received.

Their mother was named as primary beneficiary on James Freiderich's life insurance policy through defendant Minnesota Life Insurance Company until their parents' divorce in 1991.

After the divorce, the plaintiffs were named as beneficiaries, according to the complaint.

However, after James Freiderich married Bailey, he named her as a beneficiary, the suit states. At the time of the change in beneficiaries, James Freiderich was in a poor state of health and under the influence of Bailey, who harassed and badgered him until he made the change, the complaint says.

"At such time, James Freiderich was under the influence of drugs, painkillers and sedatives which further insulated his perceptiveness from reality," the suit states.

Because of the situation surrounding the change in beneficiaries, Minnesota Life Insurance Company should be prohibited from distributing any life insurance proceeds to anyone except the plaintiffs, the complaint says.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just. They are also asking the court to void the change to their father's life insurance policy.

They will be represented by Terry N. Brown of Brown and Associates in Belleville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-320.

More News