Insurance Co. battles ex-Islander, Ranger Bryan Berard over $6M

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiBryan Smith/for New York Daily News Bryan Berard says the insurance company ‘slipped in’ a repayment clause into his policy.

Bryan Berard lost the vision in his right eye. He won’t accept losing his money, too.

The Standard Security Life Insurance Company of New York filed legal papers in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Thursday seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the former Islander and Ranger All-Star for attempting to recoup $6 million in insurance money he repaid to the company following the devastating eye injury he incurred during a game in March 2000. According to the lawsuit, Berard is seeking a total of $18 million, including interest and damages.

The insurance company claimed in the complaint that once Berard returned to hockey following the injury in which he was clipped in the right eye with a stick while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game in Ottawa, eventually losing the sight in his eye, he signed a waiver agreeing to repay the money, and was barred from ever attempting to recoup it.

Berard, the NHL’s top draft choice in 1995, disagrees, and has accused the insurance company of fraud, according to the lawsuit.

But according to Berard, his $6 million personal policy with Standard Security did not originally include language requiring him to repay the insurance money should he return to play, and was inserted in the policy after the company realized that the language was included in two additional policies issued by the NHL and the NHL Players Association by the same company. Berard acknowledges he signed the waivers but says he was not represented by counsel and was not fully informed of what he was signing.

“They saw the (other) policies and basically slipped it in,” Berard says, adding that the issue was finally brought to his attention by his lawyer during a 2013 hearing in California regarding a separate workers’ compensation claim.

Standard Security says in its court papers that Berard “waived any right to pursue a claim for benefits under the Policy arising out of the March 2000 injury,” and also cites statute of limitations issues in the dispute. “Pursuant to the applicable statute of limitations and other applicable law,” the papers say, “defendant is barred from pursuing a claim for benefits under the policy and/or the release agreement and/or the repayment agreement.”

Berard says he repaid the $6,300,000 in total claims but was unaware that he could have contested the clause in his personal policy requiring repayment.

Berard began pursuing Standard Security Life in 2013, demanding that the company repay his full benefits along with interest and penalties and threatened legal action against the company, resulting in the complaint filed Thursday in which Standard Security Life filed the pre-emptive strike.

“I was 23 years old,” Berard says. “The private policy was different from the policies issued through the (the NHL’s) collective bargaining agreement.”

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