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Herzog v. Graphic Packaging Int'l, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 13, 2014

MAUREEN HERZOG, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GRAPHIC PACKAGING INTERNATIONAL, INC., and ABC INSURANCE CO., Defendants-Appellees

Argued: October 30, 2013.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 11-CV-00848 -- Lynn Adelman, Judge.

For MAUREEN HERZOG, Plaintiff - Appellant: Vincent J. Bobot, Attorney, BOBOT LAW OFFICE, Milwaukee, WI; David K. Ziemer, Attorney, Glendale, WI.

For GRAPHIC PACKAGING INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED, Defendant - Appellee: Randall Alan Constantine, Attorney, MAZURSKY CONSTANTINE, Atlanta, GA.

Before EASTERBROOK, RIPPLE, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 803

WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge.

Richard Herzog passed away in April 2009. For years before his death, while working for Defendant Graphic Packaging International, Inc. (" GPI" ), he had a supplemental life insurance policy and listed his wife, Plaintiff Maureen Herzog, as a beneficiary. But during an open enrollment period at the end of 2008, Richard's supplemental life insurance policy was cancelled. Maureen suspected that someone other than her husband was responsible for the change in benefits. Richard had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in September 2008 and Maureen could not conceive of why her husband would cancel a life insurance policy when he knew his death was imminent. After an unsuccessful attempt to obtain records from GPI, Maureen filed suit against the company and its insurer, Defendant ABC Insurance Company (" ABC" ), to recover benefits under the supplemental life insurance policy. Defendants eventually filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted. Maureen now appeals.

Maureen presents two arguments on appeal. She contends that the district court abused its discretion in granting Defendants' motion to strike her affidavit. But she never presented her arguments against the motion to strike in an opposition memorandum before the district court, despite a local rule requiring her to do so. That same local rule allowed the

Page 804

court to grant Defendants' motion as a sanction for Maureen's non-compliance, and the district court acted within its discretion in enforcing the rule. Maureen also contends that the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to Defendants. We see no error. The district court correctly determined that there was no material issue of fact as to whether Richard cancelled his supplemental life insurance policy. Although Maureen speculated that someone other than Richard terminated the policy, she presented no evidence to support her assertion. Because she had no evidence from which a reasonable juror could find in her favor on that issue, summary judgment was appropriate. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Richard worked for GPI for 25 years until his death in April 2009. As part of his benefits package, Richard received a basic life insurance policy through GPI's health and welfare plan. Richard also paid for an optional supplemental life insurance policy through GPI for several years prior to his death. Richard's wife, Maureen, was named as the beneficiary on both policies.

At the end of 2008, when the time came for GPI workers to select their benefits for the coming year, Richard's package changed. His supplemental life insurance policy was cancelled. Instead of his supplemental life insurance, Richard's benefits package included life insurance policies for his wife and children as well as an accidental death and dismemberment (AD& D) policy for himself. Richard's pay stubs reflect the termination of his supplemental policy. While his 2008 stubs showed deductions for supplemental life insurance premiums, these notations disappeared in January 2009. Nor do they appear on the stubs for the subsequent months leading up to his death. When Richard died a few months later, ...


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