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The former chief financial officer of a failed Missouri insurer reached a settlement in a lawsuit that charged the firm fired him for complaining it violated the law by hiring a disbarred lawyer who had been jailed for his role in a prepaid funeral company Ponzi scheme.
St. Louis County Circuit Judge Ellen Levy approved the confidential settlement on Wednesday. Galen was established in 2004 to offer medical malpractice insurance policies to doctors, medical professionals and surgery centers.
Dennis Lowry charged in his 2016 lawsuit, Dennis Lowry vs. Galen Insurance Management Company Inc. and Galen Insurance Co., that the St. Louis-based company broke the law by doing business with Howard Wittner after he had been released from federal prison in 2014.
In his complaint, Mr. Lowry said that “it is a felony for any person or entity involved in the insurance business to allow a person convicted of any felony involving insurance fraud to participate in the person’s or entity’s insurance business.”
In November 2010, Mr. Lowry's complaint said, Mr. Wittner and other officers of Clayton, Missouri-based National Prearranged Services Inc. were indicted by the federal government on about 50 felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of insurance premiums, and defrauding insurance companies and owners of pre-paid funeral policies.
In 2013, Mr. Wittner pleaded guilty to three counts of insurance fraud, according to Mr. Lowry's complaint. Then 76 years old, he received a sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment, according to an FBI statement released in November 2013.
He was released from a federal facility in Kentucky in October 2014 after serving about nine months on the grounds that he had a serious heart condition, Mr. Lowry's complaint said.
Mr. Lowry charged that Galen executives held an “out of prison party” for Wittner to celebrate his release and hired him to work in Galen’s law office.
Mr. Lowry's complaint said that he stated “that it was against Defendants’ business interests to have an association with a convicted felon and that such an association raised the appearance of potentially illegal conduct on the part of Defendants and placed Defendants in jeopardy of being charged with a felony by the U.S. Government.”
In November 2014, Mr. Lowry said that was contacted by the Missouri Department of Insurance regarding an investigation into Mr. Wittner. Mr. Lowry was fired on Aug. 13, 2015, and his complaint said that one of the stated reasons for his termination was that he had spoken with the MDOI regarding Mr. Wittner’s involvement with the company.
The company denied most of Mr. Lowry’s claims and filed countersuits against him.
Galen was ordered liquidated on May 31 of this year by the Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance.
An insurer for the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, agreed to pay $8.95 million to settle a coverage dispute with the diocese stemming from litigation over sexual abuse claims against local clergy, according to court documents filed Thursday.