Idaho Woman Sues Costco Over Life Insurance Money

March 5, 2013

A woman has filed a lawsuit against a northern Idaho Costco contending that the company should pay out the life insurance policy of her brother, a former Costco employee who died two years after being fired.

The Idaho Business Review reported that Nicole S. Grimmer filed the lawsuit in November in 1st District Court in northern Idaho.

She contends that Costco didn’t follow proper procedure in firing Patrick Lee Curtis in late 2010 after Costco officials said he was intoxicated when he reported to an employee meeting. She is seeking $128,000.

Costco has filed a request that the lawsuit be dismissed, contending that Grimmer has no standing to challenge her brother’s termination.

After being fired, Curtis stopped paying his life insurance policy in January 2012, and died the following September. Grimmer was the sole beneficiary.

“The inability for Patrick Lee Curtis to obtain new employment after his termination by defendant Costco and his resultant financial inability to pay the premium required to maintain his said basic life insurance policy was a foreseeable reasonable and natural result of the defendant Costco’s wrong action in terminating him without the required good cause under defendant Costco’s employee agreement,” the lawsuit states.

After Costco officials said Curtis showed up at work intoxicated, he was taken to a facility for a breathalyzer where he measured a blood-alcohol content of .29, the company said.

Grimmer contends that Curtis’ employment contract required Costco to perform a follow-up measure that would be the official results of his intoxication test. According to the lawsuit, Curtis took that test but never received the results before he was fired.

Curtis challenged his firing with the Idaho Department of Labor. That agency ruled Curtis was eligible for unemployment benefits because Costco didn’t have proper cause to fire him.

Jason Monteleone, a Boise attorney who practices employment law, said the employee contract means Costco could be sued for wrongful termination. But he said Grimmer’s right to sue on behalf of her brother is less clear.

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