United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Terminated Plaintiff/Interpleader,
CAROLYN IVIE, JACK IVIE, and FREEMAN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, Defendants.
ENTRY ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by
Defendant Carolyn Ivie (“Carolyn”) (Filing
No. 28) for claims against the other Defendants in this
case. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the Motion
for Summary Judgment.
Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”) initiated this
action by filing a Complaint in Interpleader on December 2,
2015 (Filing No. 1). At issue are the rival claims
as to who the true designated beneficiary is regarding the
life insurance policy of Decedent Roger Ivie (“Mr.
Ivie”). Specifically, MetLife asked the Court to
litigate, settle and adjust the Defendants' claims and
determine to whom Mr. Ivie's Navistar International
Transportation Corporation Retiree Life Insurance Program
(“the Plan”) benefits, plus any applicable
interest, should be paid. An Agreed Motion for Interpleader
and Dismissal of MetLife from this action was filed on
October 24, 2016. (Filing No. 27). The parties
agreed that MetLife was merely a stakeholder and claimed no
beneficial interest in the life insurance benefits (other
than attorney fees and costs of this matter) payable under
the Plan. Accordingly, MetLife was permitted to tender to the
Clerk of the Court the life insurance benefits payable under
the Plan, plus interest and minus its attorney fees and costs
reduced to the amount of $1, 500.00. Plaintiff Metlife was
dismissed with prejudice from this action on November 30,
2016 and the Defendants were instructed to litigate their
claims among themselves. (Filing No. 33 at 3.)
Thereafter, Defendant Carolyn Ivie filed her summary judgment
motion (Filing No. 28) and Defendant Jack Ivie filed
a response (Filing No. 36). Defendant Freeman Family
Funeral Home elected not to file a summary judgment brief
asserting its claims will be adequately addressed in the
above-referenced party briefs. (Filing No. 26.)
Although listed in the caption of this Entry, all claims and
proceedings against Metlife have been terminated.
following facts are undisputed. This case surrounds the death
benefits of Mr. Ivie, an employee of Navistar, Inc.
(“Navistar”). Mr. Ivie was a participant in the
Plan, an ERISA-governed employee welfare benefit plan
sponsored by Navistar, and funded by a group life insurance
policy issued by MetLife. As the claim fiduciary, MetLife
must administer claims in accordance with ERISA and the
documents and instruments governing the Plan. See 29
U.S.C. § 1104(a)(1)(D).
Plan establishes the right of a Plan participant to name his
or her beneficiary. ERISA defines a beneficiary as “a
person designated by a participant, or by the terms of an
employee benefit plan, who is or may become entitled to a
benefit thereunder.” 29 U.S.C. § 1002(8). At the
time of his death, Mr. Ivie was enrolled under the Plan for
Basic Life insurance coverage in the amount of $10, 000.00
(the “Plan Benefits”). The Plan Benefits became
payable upon Mr. Ivie's death.
October 19, 2009, Mr. Ivie designated his son, Jack Ivie
(“Jack”), as the sole beneficiary of the Plan
Benefits. In May 2014, Mr. Ivie was diagnosed with stage IV
lung cancer metastatic to the liver and, on May 30, 2014,
listed Jack as his Power of Attorney. Thereafter, on
September 30, 2014, Mr. Ivie married Carolyn. One week prior
to marrying Carolyn, on September 23, 2014, Mr. Ivie
designated Carolyn as his Power of Attorney and, on October
1, 2014, listed her as the sole beneficiary of the Plan. Mr.
Ivie died less than one week later, on October 7, 2014.
Mr. Ivie died, Jack attempted to claim the Plan Benefits. On
October 15, 2014, however, MetLife informed Jack of the
beneficiary change made just two weeks prior, on October 1,
2014. The following day, on October 16, 2014, Carolyn claimed
the Plan Benefits and requested MetLife to assign and release
$7, 156.05 of the Plan Benefits to Freeman Family Funeral
Home. The assignment to Freeman Family Funeral Home includes
an outstanding balance of $2, 916.05 for Mr. Ivie's
funeral services, as well as an outstanding balance of $4,
240.00 owed by Carolyn for the funeral services provided to
her previous husband, William Wells. That same day, October
16, 2014, MetLife received a letter from Jack contesting all
claims filed in connection with the Plan Benefits, contending
issues of undue influence exist.
October 24, 2016, MetLife filed a Complaint and a Motion for
Interpleader, asking the Court to issue an Order requiring
the Clerk of the Court to maintain the Plan Benefits until
the Court determines the true owner of the Plan Benefits.
(Filing No. 1; Filing No. 27.) On November
23, 2016, Carolyn filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,
asserting there is no dispute that Mr. Ivie designated her as
the sole beneficiary of the Plan on October 1, 2014.
(Filing No. 28.) Carolyn also points to the sworn
affidavit of James R. Lisher (“Lisher”),
Carolyn's former attorney in this matter, when contending
that Mr. Ivie “willingly, knowingly, freely, and
voluntarily” designated Carolyn as the sole beneficiary
of the Plan. (Filing No. 30. at 84.) In response,
Jack argues a material issue of fact remains regarding
whether Mr. Ivie was unduly influenced to make changes to the
Plan. (Filing No. 36.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)
(citations omitted). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56, summary judgment is appropriate only where there exists
“no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”
Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009)
(citation omitted). “However, inferences that are
supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a
summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan
Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who
bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest
on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by
specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue
of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth v.
Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir.
2007) (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot
meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation
but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible
evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900
F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).
much the same way that a court is not required to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary
judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the
merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden
Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and
quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the
existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts
is sufficient to defeat a motion ...