Laoban Co-Owner Sues Mortality Insurers Over Alleged 'Wrongful Denial'

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Laoban | Sarah Andrew

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A co-owner of the deceased stallion Laoban (Uncle Mo) is suing a collective of insurance providers in an alleged wrongful denial of coverage case for failing to pay out on mortality policies in the aftermath of the 8-year-old's sudden death 10 months ago.

The civil complaint was filed Mar. 22 in Kentucky's Fayette Circuit Court. Paulick Report first broke the story.

According to the court filing, Cypress Creek Equine, LLC, wants the defendants–North American Specialty Insurance Company, XL Specialty Insurance Company and Underwriters at Lloyd's, London and Lloyd's Kentucky, Inc.–to pay an undisclosed sum that includes mortality coverage, compensatory damages, court costs and attorney fees.

According to the lawsuit, “On May 24, 2021, the healthy stallion Laoban, partially owned by Cypress, died unexpectedly in Fayette County, Kentucky, after being given vitamin and mineral supplements.”I

Laoban, whose only win from nine starts came in the 2016 GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga, retired after that season with earnings of $526,250 and stood at Sequel Stallions in New York. As TDN's Sid Fernando recently reported, Laoban “initially stood for $7,500, but he was a hit with his first 2-year-olds–ending up second on the 2020 first-crop list behind Uncle Mo's Nyquist–and was moved to WinStar in Kentucky for the 2021 season at a $25,000 fee.”

The sire of 10 black-type winners, Laoban's first crop included Grade l winner Simply Ravishing and Grade II winner and multiple Grade l-placed Keepmeinmind.

Laoban is also the sire of Un Ojo, who upset the GII Rebel S. last month at 75-1 odds. That one-eyed gelding is currently listed as an “on the bubble” horse in the most recent TDN Top 12 rankings for the GI Kentucky Derby, but he is third on the official qualifying points list. Cypress Creek Equine owns Un Ojo.

“At the time of the death, Cypress was insured for the death by mortality insurance policies issued and/or adjusted by the Insurers,” the filing stated.

“In a letter dated August 4, 2021, the Insurers wrongfully denied Cypress mortality coverage and therefore an actual controversy exists pursuant to [Kentucky state law],” the filing stated.

“The denial was alternatively based on provision(s) in the policies which are ambiguous and/or must be construed to afford coverage to Cypress pursuant to its reasonable expectations of coverage,” the filing stated.

The defendants could not be reached for comment prior to deadline for this story. They have 21 days from the filing of the suit to respond in court.

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