The opinion of the court was delivered by: RUBEN CASTILLO
Plaintiff, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("MetLife"), brings this interpleader action to determine the proper beneficiary of two policies it issued covering the life of Edward Kelley, Sr. ("Edward") pursuant to the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act ("FEGLIA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 8701-8716. MetLife has received conflicting claims regarding the benefits from LaVerne Kelley ("LaVerne"), the widow of the deceased, and the other defendants, who are his children. The dispute over who is entitled to the benefits arises because Edward Kelley, Sr. died as a result of a gunshot wound inflicted upon him by LaVerne. LaVerne moves for summary judgment on the grounds that she acted in self-defense, and, consequently is not barred from recovering her late husband's life insurance benefits. For the following reasons, LaVerne's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
The facts in this case have been gleaned from LaVerne's 12(M) Statement.
Edward Kelley, Sr. was employed by the United States Postal Service and he opted to purchase certain life insurance benefits under the Federal Employee's Group Life Insurance ("FEGLI") policy, number 17000-G, issued by MetLife to the United States Office of Personnel Management pursuant to FEGLIA. (Rule 12(M) P 2.) His wife, LaVerne Kelley, was also a federal employee, and she maintained Option C insurance coverage on her husband's life. (Rule 12(M) PP 1, 3.)
On June 17, 1993, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Edward came home drunk, got into and argument with LaVerne, and began beating her. (Rule 12(M) P 8.) She left the house, but when she returned at 10:30 p.m. the fight continued. (Rule 12(M) P 8.) In an effort to try to get away from Edward, LaVerne went into the kitchen. (Rule 12(M) P 8.) He followed her, however, and she grabbed a can opener and he grabbed a large kitchen knife. (Rule 12(M) P 8.)
He began slashing at her with the knife and threatening to "cut" her. (Rule 12(M) P 9.) LaVerne dropped the can opener and ran to their bedroom, where she grabbed his rifle and pointed it at him. (Rule 12(M) P 9.) Using the rifle for protection, she was able to back up into the dining room. (Rule 12(M) P9.) He followed her, though, and said again that he was going to "cut" her. (Rule 12(M) P 9.) As he moved towards her, she shot him. (Rule 12(M) P 9.) LaVerne called 911, and Edward was taken to Christ Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:18 a.m. on June 18, 1993. (Rule 12(M) PP 9, 10.) After a review of the case, the State Attorney's Office declined to file charges against LaVerne. (Chicago Police Supplementary Report p. 4.)
As a result of Edward's death, the proceeds of his coverage under the FEGLI policy and under LaVerne's Option C policy became payable. (Rule 12(M) P 4.) LaVerne was the named beneficiary of the Option C policy. (Rule 12(M) P 6.) The FEGLI policy did not have a designated beneficiary, (Rule 12(M) P 5), and its proceeds are payable according to FEGLIA:
The amount of group life insurance and group accidental death insurance in force on an employee at the date of his death shall be paid, on the establishment of a valid claim, to the person or persons surviving at the date of his death, in the following order of precedence:
First, to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by the employee . . .
Second, if there is no designated beneficiary, to the widow or widower of the employee.
Third, if none of the above, to the child or children of the employee . . .
5 U.S.C. § 8705(a). LaVerne filed claims to recover the benefits due under both policies. (Rule 12(M) P 7.)