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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007
Sensing foul play, court nixes woman's big insurance payout
By JUN HONGO
The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday canceled a ¥45 million insurance payout sought by a Filipino woman, upholding a lower court ruling that her partner's 1998 death was part of a murder-for-insurance conspiracy, implying she is the killer despite not being so charged.
The 40-year-old woman, who was not identified but owns a bar in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, filed the civil case after Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co. tried to nullify her beneficiary contract on grounds that the man, a 34-year-old construction worker, might have been fatally poisoned.
The Chiba District Court ruled in March 2006 that the insurer did not have to pay the woman because the man, who was apparently deceived into taking out coverage in the wrongful belief that he had fathered the woman's child, was murdered. The woman, however, got ¥33 million from another insurer covering the man, and shared a ¥90 million payout in 1995 for the death of another partner, 30.
The case, which is still under investigation, has not yet resulted in any criminal charges against the woman.
In Wednesday's ruling, presiding Judge Kozo Yanagida acknowledged that the man died from an overdose of salicylic acid and that the Filipino woman "had a motive and was also capable of administering the medicine."
Salicylic acid is found in many medicines, including aspirin, but can be toxic when taken in large quantities. The court ruled out suicide.
"Payout is not required because the client's death was intentionally caused by the beneficiary of the insurance payment," the judge said. The woman was living in Chiba Prefecture with the construction worker, who died at a hospital in August 1998 after suffering dizziness and nausea.
Ten weeks before his death, he took out life insurance with Dai-ichi Life for ¥45 million and with another company for ¥33 million. The woman was registered as the beneficiary in both contracts and received the ¥33 million payout.
Dai-ichi Life, however, became suspicious that an unrelated person was registered as the beneficiary and denied its ¥45 million payment because the cause of death had not yet been determined.
Dai-ichi had alleged that the woman, along with a former pub owner who once employed her, poisoned their client.
The case touched off a tabloid frenzy when DNA tests proved the woman's child, whom the deceased had formally filed paternity papers for before finalizing the insurance policies, was in fact the child of the ex-pub owner, the corecipient of the payout over the other partner's death.