United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
BOARD OF TRUSTEES CONSTRUCTION WORKERS PENSION TRUST FUND -LAKE COUNTY AND VICINITY, Plaintiff,
SONJA R. JONES PERTEET and MONTEL D. PERTEET, Defendants, and ESTATE OF LONNIE JAMES PERTEET,
AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Montel D.
Perteet's and the Intervenor-Defendant The Estate of
Lonnie James Perteet's Motion for Summary Judgment (Oral
Argument not Requested) [DE 35], filed October 29, 2018, a
Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant Sonja R.
Jones-Perteet [DE 37], filed October 30, 2018, and a Motion
of Sonja R. Jones-Perteet to Strike the Affidavit of Johnetta
S. Cooper [DE 41], filed November 29, 2018.
parties have consented to have this case assigned to a United
States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings
and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case.
Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c).
March 6, 2018, Plaintiff Board of Trustees Construction
Workers Pension Trust Fund -Lake County and Vicinity filed
its Complaint for Interpleader seeking determination of the
appropriate beneficiary for the pre-retirement death benefits
of Lonnie James Perteet, listing Sonja R. Jones-Perteet,
Lonnie's ex-wife, and Montel D. Perteet, Lonnie's
adult son, as defendants and possible beneficiaries. On
August 9, 2018, the Estate of Lonnie James by its
representative Montel D. Perteet filed a motion to intervene,
which was granted on August 28, 2018. On September 6, 2018,
the Court granted Plaintiff's request that it be
permitted to deposit the funds at issue in the case, and on
September 26, 2018, after the funds were deposited, the Court
discharged Plaintiff from all further liability and ordered
that it be reimbursed reasonable fees, costs, and expenses
from the funds.
and the Estate filed their joint motion for summary judgment
on October 29, 2018, and Sonja filed a response on November
29, 2018, along with the pending motion to strike. Sonja
filed her motion for summary judgment on October 30, 2018,
and on November 26, 2018, Montel and the Estate filed a
response, although it is captioned as a reply brief. No reply
briefs have been filed in support of either motion for
summary judgment, and Montel and the Estate have not filed a
response to the motion to strike.
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for
summary judgment be granted “if the movant shows that
there is 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). Rule 56 further requires the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against
a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact,
is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material
fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other
words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could
find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v.
Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832,
836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).
viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment,
a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to
the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences in
favor of that party. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at
255; Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th
Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45
F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to
evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility
of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but
instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of
triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
his death, Lonnie Perteet participated in the Construction
Workers Pension Fund -Lake County and Vicinity Pension Plan,
an employee benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §
1001 et seq. Lonnie died on April 27, 2017, with a
benefit in the Plan in the amount of approximately $227,
840.38. He has one adult son, Montel D. Perteet, his heir and
the personal representative of the Estate in Indiana.
February 2, 2007, Lonnie completed a Welfare Fund Beneficiary
Designation Form that named Sonja, identified as his wife, as
his beneficiary. No new beneficiary card has been filed or
any other form completed identifying any other beneficiary.
On December 12, 2011, a final divorce decree was issued in
Texas dissolving the marriage between Lonnie and Sonja. As
part of the divorce decree, Lonnie retained his employment
benefits, including any pension plans. No qualified domestic
relations order (QDRO) was filed with the Board of Trustees
for the Plan.
Plan, as amended effective June 1, 2014, provides payment of
benefits to the eligible spouse or, if the Participant
“did not have an Eligible Spouse on the date of his
death, the Participant's beneficiary shall be entitled to
receive” payment of the benefits. The current
beneficiary designation card includes the language: “If
I have designated my spouse, this Designation shall be void
upon the dissolution of my marriage to him or her.”
That language is not included on the card completed by Lonnie
in 2007, and no card including that language was executed by