United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Tharp, Jr., United States District Judge
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”)
filed this interpleader action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 22
and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29
U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. (“ERISA”)
asking this Court to determine to whom it should pay the
proceeds of two life insurance policies held by its insured,
David Unger (“David”), plus any applicable
interest. MetLife named Elizabeth A. Unger
(“Elizabeth”), who was married to Unger at the
time of his death, and Althea A. Bartlett
(“Althea”), Unger's former spouse, as
defendants, as well as Roxanna A. Hipple, Unger's former
Guardian ad Litem who has since been dismissed from this
action. Now before the Court are Elizabeth and Althea's
cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth
below, Althea's motion is denied and Elizabeth's
motion is granted.
was a former employee of Alcatel-Lucent USA, Inc.
(“Alcatel”), and while he worked there he
participated in the Alcatel-Lucent Retiree Welfare Benefits
Plan (“BLI Plan”). Joint Statement of Material
Facts (hereinafter JSOF) ¶¶ 1-2, Dkt. 38;
Compl. ¶¶ 5, 8, Dkt. 1. The BLI Plan is regulated
by ERISA and is funded by a group life insurance policy that
MetLife issued. JSOF ¶ 2; Compl. ¶ 5. The BLI Plan
provides, in relevant part:
Naming a Beneficiary
After your retirement, the beneficiary(ies) for your basic
life insurance coverage are the same as those designated
while you were actively employed.
. . . Generally, death benefits are paid to your primary
beneficiary(ies). If none of your primary beneficiaries are
living when you die, payment will be made in equal shares to
your contingent beneficiary(ies), unless you indicated
otherwise. If none of your beneficiaries are living when you
die or you did not designate a beneficiary, payment will be
made to your next surviving relative(s) and considered in
this order: your spouse or domestic partner, your children,
your parents, or your brother and sister; provided, however,
that the insurer may pay all or part of such amount to your
. . .
How to Change Your Beneficiary
You may change your beneficiary at any time, unless you
assign your benefits. You do not need the consent of the
beneficiary to make a change.
To change your beneficiary, contact the insurer (see section
I. Important Contacts) for the appropriate form. After you
complete the form, return it to the insurer. Your change
takes effect on the date you signed it, even if you are not
alive when the insurer receives the form.
JSOF ¶ 3; Compl. ¶ 11; Compl. Ex. B at 4-5.
he was an Alcatel employee, David also purchased a
Participating Group Universal Life Insurance Policy, Group
Policy No. 32900-G, Group No. 96619 (“GUL
Policy”) from MetLife. JSOF ¶ 4; Compl. ¶ 5.
MetLife asserted in its complaint that the GUL Policy is not
governed by ERISA. Compl. ¶ 5. The GUL Policy provides:
The “Beneficiary” is the person or persons you
choose to receive any benefit payable because of your death.
You make the choice in Writing on a form approved by us. This
form must be filed with the records of This Plan. You may
change the Beneficiary at any time by filing a new form with
us. You do not need the consent of the Beneficiary to make a
change. When we receive a form changing the Beneficiary, the
change will take effect as of the date you Signed it. The