(4th Cir. 1988). MetLife argues that, since there is still a possibility of a civil determination of wrongfulness in the death of Edward, there is a chance that LaVerne could still forfeit her rights to the insurance proceeds according to the Slayer's Rule. Consequently, the Court must evaluate whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, LaVerne was involved in the wrongful death of Edward.
C. LaVerne Acted in Self-Defense
The Court's role in this summary judgment decision is not to try LaVerne for capital murder, but to determine her eligibility to the proceeds of the life insurance policies taken out on her husband's life. For this purpose only, the Court concludes that LaVerne acted in self-defense, and can recover the proceeds of both policies.
In order to prove her claim of self-defense, LaVerne must show that she acted with a reasonable amount of force in response to an imminent, perceived threat. See Roberson v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 912 F.2d 184, 188 (7th Cir. 1990). LaVerne has described the events of the night that she shot Edward in her Rule 12(M) Statement, claiming that she believed that Edward was going to cut her and kill her with a large kitchen knife. (Rule 12(M) P 11.) The State's Attorney's office declined to file charges against LaVerne because of her claim of self-defense, the fact that a knife was found in the Kelley's dining room where the shooting occurred, and because there were no witnesses or evidence to dispute LaVerne's account of the shooting. (Chicago Police Supplementary Report p.4.) Additionally, the Court takes judicial notice of the fact that during the two years that have elapsed since Edward's death no charges of any kind have been filed against LaVerne. The other defendants in this case, Edward's children, have failed to file a 12(N) Statement in response to LaVerne's 12(M) Statement, and have provided no other evidence which would lead this Court to doubt the veracity of LaVerne's claim of self-defense. Therefore, the Court concludes that, by a preponderance of the evidence, LaVerne acted in self-defense, the death of Edward was not "wrongful," and LaVerne is entitled to recover the total insurance benefits from both FEGLI policies. See Shoemaker, 263 F.2d at 932 (there was conflicting evidence as to whether the appellant acted in self-defense, and the court determined that she, in fact, had acted wrongfully).
For the purposes of this action, this Court concludes that LaVerne acted in self-defense when she shot her husband, Edward, and, therefore, she has not forfeited her right to receive the insurance proceeds from the policies on Edward's life as a result of the Slayer's Rule. Consequently, LaVerne's Motion for Summary Judgment (Document 26) is GRANTED, and the following results are ordered:
1. Defendant LaVerne Kelley is entitled to the insurance proceeds from Edward's $ 30,000 FEGLI policy and her own $ 5,000 Option C policy, plus whatever interest has accrued in both cases;
2. Defendants Fran Scott, Martha Henley, Edwina Kelley, and Edward Kelley have no rights to the proceeds of either insurance policy;
3. Defendants are enjoined from bringing any other claims against MetLife with regards these insurance proceeds;
4. MetLife, upon the payment of the proper insurance proceeds to LaVerne Kelley, is released from any and all liability for any FEGLI benefits payable on account of the death of Edward Kelley, Sr.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment, pursuant to Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in favor of defendant LaVerne Kelley and against plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. All parties are to bear their own costs.
United States District Judge
June 22, 1995