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Suit: Man denied death benefit after 2011 disappearance of companion in Aruba

Updated: June 14, 2012 8:34PM

A man considered a person of interest in a woman’s 2011 disappearance in Aruba filed a lawsuit Thursday against an insurance company for allegedly failing to pay a death benefit on her life.

Gary Giordano is suing Chicago-based AmEx Assurance Company for the $3.5 million benefit, which he contends in a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court. was part of a travel insurance policy he took out before his trip to Aruba with Robyn Lynn Gardner.

Gardner, 36, of Maryland, has been missing since Aug. 2, 2011, and Giordano reported her disappearance to AmEx two days later, according to the suit. Gardner is presumed to be dead.

The suit claims Giordano paid the premiums on the insurance policy.

Giordano told authorities Gardner disappeared while snorkeling near Baby Beach, Sint Nicolaas in Aruba. He was arrested by Aruban police just three days after Gardner’s disappearance, but never charged.

Richard Forester, Gardner’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, called the lawsuit “disgusting.”

Nobody knows whether she is dead or not,” Forester said. “It goes to [Giordano’s] character … he is just trying to make money off of this.”

Forester said he was originally told the benefit was $1.5 million, though Giordano is seeking $2 million more through the suit.

The lawsuit said the $3.5 million was the “full death benefit,” and Gardner was a “covered person” in the policy.

Kym Pasqualini, founder of the National Center for Missing Adults (now part of Let’s Bring Them Home) said the lawsuit and insurance policy is suspicious.

“Right away it appeared to me that having traveler’s insurance on her was a potential motive for homicide,” Pasqualini said.

The two-count suit seeks the full death benefit as well as additional damages.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore FBI office that assisted in the search for Gardner declined to comment on the lawsuit and Scott Blumenshine, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on Giordano’s behalf, was not available for comment Thursday night.

Efforts to reach American Express were unsuccessful Thursday night.

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