Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins Co v. Ouellette

In Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins Co v Ouellette, 159 Vt. 187, 192; 617 A.2d 132, 135 (1992), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff insurance company. The defendant, an optometrist, was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Ouellette, 159 Vt. at 187, 617 A.2d at 132. As part of the plea agreement underlying the defendant's conviction, he agreed to surrender his license to practice optometry. Ouellette, 159 Vt. at 188, 617 A.2d at 133. The defendant did not dispute that he practiced optometry despite suffering from an atypical paraphilia for approximately ten years before his incarceration and the loss of his license. Id. After his conviction, he filed a claim seeking disability insurance benefits, asserting that his illness rendered him totally disabled. Id. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the defendant presented no evidence to contradict the trial court's conclusion that the defendant's legal disability, rather than his mental illness, was the cause of his inability to work. Ouellette, 159 Vt. at 189-191, 617 A.2d at 133-134. The opinion emphasized testimony that the defendant was able to practice optometry for ten years after his disorder manifested itself and that the defendant would have continued to practice had he not been incarcerated and lost his license. Therefore, summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff was proper. Ouellette, 159 Vt. at 191, 617 A.2d at 134.