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RAA Suit Raises Questions About Interest Rates

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WASHINGTON BUREAU – Lawyers have filed a purported class-action lawsuit involving retained asset accounts in a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

The plaintiffs in the suit, Kevin and Joyce Lucey and Tracy Lynn Reece Eiswert individually and behalf of all others similarly situated, vs. Prudential Insurance Company of America, allege that the defendant, a unit of Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J. (NYSE:PRU), underpaid the beneficiaries of dead soldiers who bought group life insurance through government programs that administered by Prudential.

The plaintiffs allege that Prudential paid the beneficiaries an interest rate of 1% on the funds in retained asset accounts and earned a rate of 5.69% on the funds.

Robert DeFillippo, a spokesman for Prudential, declined to discuss the suit. “Because this is a matter of litigation, we cannot comment,” DeFillippo said.

The plaintiffs allege that Prudential had a fiduciary duty under federal common law to the beneficiaries of the military and veterans life insurance programs. Prudential violated its fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries when it failed to disclose to the beneficiaries that their accrued but-yet-to-be undelivered funds would be invested by Prudential, and, in addition, it failed to deliver to the beneficiaries the entire profits generated by Prudential from those investments, the plaintiffs allege.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mass.

Cristobal Bonifaz and John Bonifaz, two Conway, Mass., are representing the plaintiffs.

The Luceys are the parents of Jeffrey Michael Lucey, a corporal in the U.S. Marines who was assigned to a special operations unit in Iraq in 2003. Lucey died in 2004.

Eiswert is the widow of Scott Eiswert, a specialist in the Tennessee Army National Guard who served in Iraq and died in 2008.


CORRECTION: The status of the suit was described incorrectly in an earlier version of this article. The plaintiffs are seeking to have the suit certified as a class action. Due to an editing earlier, the number of lawyers who filed the suit was described incorrectly. Two lawyers filed the suit.


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