Quebec man “returned” from his “legal” death

Sometimes a person who has been legally declared dead is not dead.

In a remarkably rare turnabout, a Canadian insurer successfully convinced Quebec Superior Court to annul a judicial declaration of death of a Montreal man who disappeared in 2008 after reliable signs of life were uncovered, freeing it of its obligation to pay $500,000 in life insurance.

“There is not much that has been written about such cases because they are exceptional,” noted Josianne Gelfusa, a Montreal notary with D & G Notaries, who co-wrote a chapter on absence and death for the book Droit des personnes physiques (Law of natural persons). “So there is not much case law to assist judges.”

Hooshang Imanpoorsaid left for a business trip to Toronto in February 2008, and never returned. Nearly a decade later, in December 2017, Quebec Superior Justice Yves Poirier issued a judgment declaring the 58-year old Iranian native dead, based on the record before him at the time.

The investment and insurance representative was in financial straits, evidence revealed. He owed monies to financial institutions and to people and groups belonging to the underworld. He emptied the family bank accounts, depleted all the family’s savings, and hypothecated all of their immovable properties to the maximum of available equity. A few days before leaving, Imanpoorsaid changed his life insurance policy so that his wife, Deborah Carol Riddle, became the sole beneficiary and transferred ownership of the policy to his wife.

Three years after his disappearance, Imanpoorsaid was permanently disbarred by a Quebec financial watchdog, the Chambre de la securité financière, for misappropriation.

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This story was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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