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Insurance Co. denying to pay $ 12 m claim to Ledgers daughter

Melbourne (ANI): Just when the late actor Heath Ledger's family confirmed that his 2-year-old daughter, Matilda Rose, will inherit all of her father's estate, a lawsuit has revealed that an insurance company is trying to avoid paying a 12 million dollars claim to her. A former attorney for Ledger, John S. LaViolette, sued Minnesota-based ReliaStar Life Insurance Co. in July, saying the company is trying to avoid paying the claim, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The court case doesn't mention Ledger or his daughter's name, but says it is on behalf of a man who died of "accidental causes on January 22, 2008". That is the date the 28-year-old actor was found dead of an apparent accidental prescription drug overdose in New York.

ReliaStar states in its legal response it is seeking more information about whether Ledger may have lied on paperwork and about whether his death may have been a suicide. LaViolette's lawsuit claims ReliaStar had to investigate any statements Ledger made in paperwork while the actor was still alive. The case was removed from Los Angeles Superior Court to federal court in August.

"We have not rendered a decision on this claim," News.com.au quoted Dana Ripley, a spokesman for ING Americas, which owns ReliaStar, as saying.

William Shernoff, the lawyer representing LaViolette and Matilda Rose, said ReliaStar has told him it would seek the depositions of a masseuse who found Ledger's body and of actress Mary-Kate Olsen, who received a flurry of phone calls after the body was found. Shernoff said that the insurance company's lawyers also want to question Ledger's co-stars, agents and doctors.

"There's a young girl whose father died who is entitled to this money, and ReliaStar is doing everything it can to avoid paying," Shernoff said.

He accused the insurer of trying to drag out the payment process, saying the lawsuit could take years to resolve.

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