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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Representatives of E.R. Dupuis Concrete Co. met with Luther Lewis and Morris Robertson to discuss estate planning for Elwood Dupuis. Dupuis Concrete purchased a $3 million life insurance policy for Elwood Dupuis from Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. Lewis and Robertson were to invest the premiums in other funds, and the profits from those investments were to cover the future payments. Lewis and Robertson allegedly promised between a 10 percent and 24 percent return on the investment. Dupuis Concrete brought suit when the $221,000 in premiums invested was alleged to be worth only $28,000. They alleged at least eight causes of action under tort and contract theories. The defendants argued that Dupuis Concrete’s claims for misrepresentation, deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation and fraud were barred as a matter of law because Elwood Dupuis admitted he did not read the life insurance policy. On the front page of the policy is the warning that the policy’s value may increase or decrease based on the investment experience, and that value of the funds was not guaranteed. The defendants filed traditional motions for summary judgment on all claims, and additional no-evidence summary judgment motions on specific claims. The trial court granted them all. HOLDING: Affirmed. Since many of the issues depend on Elwood Dupuis’ admission that he did not read the policy, the court turns to the implications of that fact. In one issue, Dupuis Concrete complains that the agents Lewis and Robertson did not disclose that roughly one-third of the premiums paid were to go to the agents’ commission. Dupuis Concrete complains that by failing to disclose the commissions, the defendants misrepresented the level of risk. Dupuis Concrete also argues that the policy was so difficult to read and understand that it wouldn’t have mattered if Elwood Dupuis had read it. As to the commissions, the court notes that the policy explained how the premiums would be invested, and that both Dupuis and his accountant were aware that premiums were charged for the insurance policy. Even assuming the defendants failed to disclose that commissions were to be paid out of the premium, the policy itself disclosed the entire premium being paid, not a component part, and stated that the not all the initial investment money would be plowed into investments. As to the complexity of the policy, the court points out that “complexity in and of itself, in the absence of fraud or other tortious conduct, does not excuse a party from reading a contract.” The court adds that a certified public accountant and several lawyers assisted Dupuis Concrete in purchasing the policy. The trial court was correct in considering Elwood Dupuis’ admission that he didn’t read the policy as part of the summary judgment evidence. The next issue deals with Dupuis Concrete’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty. There is no general fiduciary duty between an insurer and its insured. No special relationship of trust between Elwood Dupuis and Lewis and Robertson existed, either. Their assistance in filling in forms in a trust kit was not the unauthorized practice of law; they did not draft any documents or sign anything in a capacity as a lawyer. Elwood Dupuis claimed he did not know whether either Lewis or Robertson was a lawyer, but the court points out that “not knowing that someone is, in fact, not a lawyer or an accountant is not the same thing as believing that they are.” The court further rejects that a special, confidential relationship existed because Elwood Dupuis knew Robertson through church. Dupuis Concrete “presents no case authority for the proposition that praying together creates a confidential relationship to which a fiduciary duty will attach in future business transactions.” Dupuis Concrete’s third issue relates to fraud. In his deposition, Elwood Dupuis said he asked Robertson if he could lose his money with this investment, and Robertson replied that “any investment you can lose your money.” Dupuis Concrete also argued that Robertson or Lewis made representations that the growth-rate was normally 24 percent, but that in a worst-case scenario, it would be 12 percent. The court finds that although the growth rate wound up being much lower � 4 percent to 8 percent-there is no summary judgment evidence that the statement about expected growth rates was false when the agents made it. The fourth issue relates to Dupuis Concrete’s issue of negligent misrepresentation. Dupuis Concrete again brings up the point about not disclosing the commission, and the court again responds that because the policy states the formula for calculating the cost of insurance and monthly deduction, it was disclosed that the initial investment would not remain in the investment account. The fifth issue deals with alleged violations of the Insurance Code, specifically dealing with unfair and deceptive trade practices. The court again rejects the argument that the agents made misrepresentations about the policy, noting that the policy itself warns agents from making the kind of precise guarantees of investment returns that Concrete Dupuis says it wanted or relied on. Further, Dupuis Concrete was on notice that the policy’s accumulation value could increase or decrease based on the risk and the investment experience. In the sixth issue, the court rules that summary judgment was proper on claims made under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, too. Dupuis Concrete refers to illustrations the agents presented showing the rate of growth. Dupuis Concrete contends that because the signature lines for the company and the agents, attesting that no growth-rates were guaranteed, that is evidence of the agents’ failure to disclose that point. “Had the illustrations in question been signed, Penn Mutual could have used them to conclusively establish that the information contained in them was provided to the insured. But the lack of a signature, in and of itself, does not raise a fact issue of the opposite proposition that the information was not disclosed. Had [Elwood Dupuis] alleged that he had not received these illustrations, a different conclusion may have been warranted.” The court overrules the seventh issue, which deals with causes of action for negligent hiring, supervision or management. Robertson was terminated from a prior job for engaging in outside-business activities without his employer’s knowledge; Lewis was a pipe fitter by trade. The court finds no connection between these past facts and any present danger to the insurance-buying public. The court rules that the eighth issue, related to the alleged breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing fails for the same reason that issue two-dealing with the fiduciary duty-failed. OPINION: McKeithen, C.J.; McKeithen, C.J., Burgess and Gaultney, JJ.

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