Insurer Doesn’t Have to Pay Claims in Ark. Babies’ Deaths

June 16, 2006

An insurance company doesn’t have to pay claims made in the deaths of two babies left inside a closed car in sweltering weather in Arkansas, a federal appeals court says.

The claims were made in the April 1998 deaths of 16-month-old Vicky Crisp and her 4-month-old cousin Sidney Pippin.

The babies overheated and died after they were left strapped in their car seats with the windows rolled up while Vicky’s father, Ricky L. Crisp, and Justin Avery Griffith hunted for arrowheads.

After survivors of the girls sought payment from AIG Centennial Insurance Company that had sold a policy to Vicky’s grandfather, the company asked a federal judge to rule that it did not have to honor the request.

U.S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren said the company wasn’t obligated to pay the claims because AIG wasn’t given notice of the loss “as soon as possible.” Tuesday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed, saying that almost two years had elapsed since the girls’ deaths before the survivors sought payment from AIG.

Ricky Crisp was convicted in 1999 of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He is now out on parole.

Griffith pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter. He testified against Crisp, and was sentenced to 10 years probation, but was subsequently sentenced to prison for six years after the probation was revoked.

A lawsuit filed against Ricky Crisp by the mothers of the babies, on behalf of the babies’ estates, is pending in Benton County Circuit Court. A hearing is set Sept. 7.

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