The widow of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle has sued MetLife Inc., claiming she is owed more than $1 million under baseball’s benefit plan.
Lidle died in the crash of his small plane Oct. 11 and was covered by the benefit plan of Major League Baseball and its players’ association, which had a $450,000 life insurance benefit and an accidental death benefit of $1.05 million.
However, the plan — which applies to all players with major league contracts — contains an exclusion for “any incident related to travel in an aircraft … while acting in any capacity other than as a passenger.”
New York-based MetLife paid Melanie Lidle $450,000, but “has refused to pay the entirety of the policy” despite demands, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The family lived in suburban Glendora during the offseason
In the complaint, lawyers for Melanie Lidle said they anticipate MetLife will try to claim that Lidle’s death occurred while he was acting in the role of pilot, crew member or another capacity and not a passenger.
Melanie Lidle is entitled to the $1.05 million payout because the life insurer can’t prove that Cory Lidle was piloting the single-engine Cirrus SR-20 plane that crashed into a Manhattan high-rise, said her lawyer, Stacy King.
“Quite frankly, there were no eyewitnesses that we’ve been able to find to determine who actually was flying that plane,” King said Monday.
The complaint was filed March 9. A status conference hearing is set for July 31, King said.
MetLife spokesman John Calagna said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The 34-year-old Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed when the pitcher’s plane slammed into an apartment tower during a midday aerial tour past the Statue of Liberty and north up the East River.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found neither men had drugs or alcohol in their systems. However, the agency did not reach any conclusions about the cause of the accident or who was at the controls when the plane crashed.
Last month, the Lidle and Stanger families filed wrongful-death lawsuits against California-based Cirrus Design Corp., the maker of the airplane. The lawsuits allege product liability, negligence and other complaints.
Last month, Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal, a dentist to the rich and famous, filed a $7 million lawsuit against the Lidle estate, claiming his home was destroyed in the crash.
Lidle pitched for seven teams during his nearly 10-year major league career, going 82-72 with a 4.57 ERA.
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