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State Employees' Ret. System v. Taylor

OPINION FILED MARCH 21, 1985.

STATE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN E. TAYLOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT (FRANCES A. ARNOLD ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Thomas M. Ewert, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On August 25, 1983, the State Employees' Retirement System of Illinois filed a complaint in interpleader in the circuit court of Sangamon County. A fund was deposited with the circuit court pursuant to the complaint, in the amount of $34,200.17, payable by the Retirement System by reason of the death of Daphne D. McReynolds, a member of the system. Named as adverse claimants to this fund were John E. Taylor and Frances A. Arnold. After a motion for transfer of venue to the circuit court of Will County was granted, the plaintiff was dismissed from the case, and both adverse claimants filed motions for summary judgment, each of which urged their respective entitlement to the fund. The circuit court granted the summary judgment motion of Frances A. Arnold, and denied the summary judgment motion of John E. Taylor. Mr. Taylor appeals.

During the time period from November 1, 1960, to March 11, 1983, Daphne D. McReynolds was a member of the Retirement System and made contributions thereto. As a result of this membership and these contributions, the Retirement System became obligated to pay the appropriate beneficiary a nonoccupational death benefit in the amount of $34,200.17 upon the death of Daphne D. McReynolds on March 11, 1983. The identity of this appropriate beneficiary is a matter of dispute between the claimants, Taylor and Arnold.

On March 15, 1971, the Retirement System received from McReynolds a request for change of beneficiary nominating the claimant Taylor as beneficiary. This request was executed by McReynolds on the form provided by the Retirement System, and duly acknowledged by a notary public.

On October 25, 1982, the Retirement System received from McReynolds a letter concerning the beneficiary designation currently filed with the Retirement System. The letter read as follows:

"Dear Sirs,

I see by my yearly benefits' paper that my beneficiary is still John Taylor. I would like to change my beneficiary to Mrs. Frances Arnold, 1112 Sterling Ave., Joliet, Illinois 60433.

Sincerely, Daphne McReynolds."

In response to this correspondence, on November 5, 1982, the Retirement System sent McReynolds a change of beneficiary form and the following letter:

"Dear Ms. McReynolds,

In compliance with your recent request, we are enclosing a change of beneficiary form (RS101). If you have any questions regarding completion of the form, please feel free to contact our office.

Very truly yours, Sally Henderson Administrative Services Division."

The change of beneficiary form was never returned to the Retirement System, and, as stated earlier, McReynolds died several months later.

Both Taylor and Arnold filed applications for the death benefit payable as a result of McReynolds' death. The Retirement System, unable to determine which of the adverse claimants was entitled to the death benefit, sought by this action to require the claimants to interplead, each ...


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