John Juergens claims that his 25-year record as an agent for Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. was unblemished until March, when the Nebraska company closed four New York offices.
Then, his seamless record “changed suddenly, unexpectedly and for unsubstantiated reasons.”
Mutual had spot-checked his records, arbitrarily fired him and destroyed his business, Purchase resident Juergens alleges in a lawsuit filed Oct. 4 in federal court in White Plains.
“It’s our practice not to comment on pending litigation,” Mutual of Omaha spokesman Jim Nolan said in an email.
Juergens began working for Mutual in 1993, in Hauppauge and Jericho, Long Island, according to a regulatory record. He started in the Rye office in 1994.
He was the third generation of his family to work for the insurer, dating back to 1935 through his father and grandfather, “who were also very well respected,” the complaint states.
Mutual notified him in January that it would be closing offices in New York and that he would no longer be able to sell most of the company’s life insurance products.
Mutual closed offices in Rye, Syracuse, Latham and New York City, according to the Omaha World-Herald, because of “unique conditions in the state of New York.” A spokesman said the decision was based on an analysis of sales, market share, profitability, cost and state regulations.
Thirteen managers and 65 agents lost their jobs.
Juergens claims that the company agreed in February to award him an all-expenses-paid trip to Ireland, worth $10,000, “because he was one of the top producers” in 2017. The agreement also entitled him to various types of commissions and deferred compensation, according to the complaint.
On March 8 he was fired. Mutual had conducted a “spot file check” about his “alleged involvement with another agent who had already been terminated.”
“This ‘spot file check’ was nothing more than a ruse by Mutual of Omaha,” the complaint states, “to obtain damaging information about Mr. Juergens or other … agents with whom he associated.”
The complaint does not describe the company’s findings, but according to Juergens the company lacked any evidence of wrongdoing.
Now, he claims, he is unable to collect the benefits he was promised. His client book has been misappropriated. His business has been eviscerated. His reputation has been damaged.
Juergens is accusing Mutual of breach of contract, wrongful discharge and unjust enrichment, and he is demanding an unspecified amount of damages.
He is represented by Michael A. Zamat, of Peterson Zamat, Manhattan.