The scion of one of Galveston’s wealthiest families has sued American National Insurance Co. claiming the company retaliated against him for complaining about its conduct, costing him millions of dollars in income.
Robert L. Moody Jr. filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas on Wednesday, seeking compensation for monetary losses and damages caused by his removal from the company’s advisory board and the cancellation of two contracts he had with the company to provide marketing and consulting services.
American National disputes the assertions and plans a vigorous defense, officials said.
The lawsuit is the latest episode in the dispute between Moody and his family’s company. The conflict first came to light in 2017, when Moody Jr. filed a lawsuit in a Galveston District Court against his brother, Ross Rankin Moody, the chairman of Austin-based National Western Life Insurance Group, and six other National Western board members.
The lawsuit claimed National Western failed to get a proper licensing to sell insurance in Brazil, resulting in financial penalties against the company.
That lawsuit was dismissed in May 2018, after 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor ruled that the Galveston court didn’t have the authority to rule on Moody’s case. That decision is now under appeal.
The new lawsuit accuses American National of retaliating against Robert Moody Jr. for questioning whether its board acted legally and ethically ahead of a board election.
The 2017 lawsuit accused Ross Moody, Frances Anne Moody-Dahlberg and Elvin Pederson — all who are members of the boards at both National Western and American National — of failing to inform American National shareholders of the issues at the other company before an April 2018 shareholders meeting, when they were re-elected to their board positions.
Ross Moody is the chairman of American National Insurance Co. and the chairman, president and CEO of National Western Life Group. Moody-Dahlberg and Pederson are on the boards of both companies.
Ross Moody, Robert Moody Jr. and Moody-Dahlberg are siblings.
Mike Martin, Robert L. Moody Jr.’s attorney, said his client was targeted for raising legitimate concerns about disclosures to shareholders. Robert L. Moody Jr. should be protected from retaliation by whistleblower laws.
“Because he complained, they kicked him off the board and they canceled his contracts,” Martin said.
The new complaint accuses American National of taking adverse actions against Moody Jr., after that April 2018 shareholders meeting. In July 2018, Robert L. Moody Jr. was removed from his position on American National’s advisory board, a position he had since 2006.
Moody Jr. is the first member of the advisory board to be removed for a reason other than death, according to the lawsuit.
The same week, American National canceled a contract Moody Jr. had with the company that allowed him to sell some forms of life insurance through a subcontractor, the Moody Insurance Group. The cancellation cost him $2 million a year, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2018, Moody Bank notified Robert L. Moody Jr. that the Moody Insurance Group’s office lease, had been terminated.
In a written statement to The Daily News, American National Insurance Co. President and CEO James E. Pozzi said the company will dispute the allegations made in Moody Jr.’s lawsuit.
“While American National will fully investigate and defend itself, our initial review identified numerous factual and legal errors as well as several key omissions,” Pozzi said. “American National takes all lawsuits and complaints seriously, however, we believe that this lawsuit has no merit and was filed for improper purposes.”
The company will make all its future responses through court filings, he said.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday. No hearings had been scheduled as of Friday afternoon.