Drummer’s Widow Seeks $20 Million

Times Staff Writer

Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson was a good swimmer, the only surfer in the band, and drugs had nothing to do with his drowning death, an attorney for Wilson’s widow and child told Los Angeles Superior Court jurors Thursday.

The panel will decide if an insurance policy on the musician’s life was valid.

Shawn Love Wilson, 21, sued Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Co. after it refused to pay $400,000 in benefits on grounds his death was caused by drug and drinking habits and was not accidental.

The insurance policy had been in effect a little more than a year when Wilson died. In addition to the $400,000, Shawn Wilson is seeking $20 million in punitive damages.

‘We Were Misled’

In opening arguments, insurance company attorney Kimler Casteel told jurors the death benefits “aren’t due because we were misled in (Wilson’s) application for the policy.” He said Wilson had checked “no” to questions regarding use of drugs or treatment for alcoholism.


Attorney James H. Davis, representing Shawn Wilson and her 3-year-old son, Gage, argued that the company failed to properly investigate the drummer’s application and waived blood and urine tests for detection of drug use. He said he will present evidence to show Wilson’s death while diving in 58-degree water off Marina del Rey on Dec. 28, 1983, occurred after his body became overly chilled and he became disoriented.