United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Standard Insurance
Company's Motion for Discharge (d/e 9). The Motion is
March 2017, Plaintiff filed this statutory interpleader
action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335. The Complaint for
Interpleader names as defendants Michael J. Harnett, Brooke
Kletzli, Kellen Kletzli, Christina Weiprecht, and Marquita L.
Harnett. Because many of the parties have the same last name,
the Court will refer to the individuals by their first names.
Complaint for Interpleader contains the following
allegations. Plaintiff issued a Group Life Insurance Policy
to the Albuquerque Public Schools on January 1, 2012. The
Policy provided life insurance coverage to eligible employees
of the Albuquerque Public Schools, including the decedent,
Vesta Harnett. Vesta retired from employment with the
Albuquerque Public Schools in 1991, 24 years before her death
on September 17, 2015. Several years prior to her death,
Vesta moved from Albuquerque to Springfield, Illinois. Upon
Vesta's death, her lawful beneficiary or beneficiaries
were eligible for life insurance benefits, which included a
basic life insurance benefit of $4, 000 and an additional
life insurance benefit of $25, 000. The total benefit of $29,
000 is referred to as the “Life Benefit.”
December 2015, the Albuquerque Public Schools advised
Plaintiff of Vesta's death. As a result of Vesta's
death, the Life Benefit under the Policy became due and
payable upon Plaintiff's receipt of proof of loss and
proof of those designated to be the lawful beneficiaries of
the Life Benefit.
Michael J. Harnett, Vesta's son, made a claim for 100% of
the Life Benefit. Michael claimed he was entitled to 100%
based on the most recent beneficiary designation.
Specifically, on July 22, 2015, Vesta named Michael as her
agent in an Illinois Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney
For Property. Within three days, and pursuant to the power of
attorney, Michael changed Vesta's prior beneficiary
designation to provide Michael with 100% of the Life Benefit.
asserts that the Retiree Life Insurance Change Form is
ambiguous in that the form suggests that the beneficiary
change is only with respect to the $25, 000 benefit. However,
near the bottom of the page, in the area of the form titled
“BASIC LIFE BENEFICIARY (if applicable), ”
Michael purports to also designate himself as the beneficiary
of 100% of Vesta's Basic Life Insurance- the $4, 000
rejected Michael's claim to 100% of the Life Benefit on
the ground that the power of attorney did not, under Illinois
law, authorize Michael to change the beneficiaries of the
Life Benefit. If Michael is not entitled to 100% of the Life
Benefit, Vesta's beneficiary designation of June 15, 2011
applies. The June 2011 designation divides the $4, 000
benefit equally between Michael and Marquita, Vesta's
daughter. The 2011 beneficiary designation divides the $25,
000 benefit between Michael and Marquita (one-third each) and
between Vesta's four grandchildren (one-twelfth each).
The grandchildren are Christina, Kellen, Brooke, and Sean
Kletzli. Plaintiff did not name Sean Kletzli as a defendant
in this case because, upon Plaintiff's information and
belief, Sean died in a motorcycle accident in 2014. Under the
June 15, 2011 beneficiary designation, upon the death of
Sean, his one-twelfth would be apportioned equally among the
remaining three living grandchildren Vesta designated as
beneficiaries at the same time she designated Sean. Compl.
¶ 24; but see Policy at 28 (d/e 53) (applying
the following where two or more beneficiaries are named in a
class: “If you provide for unequal shares in a class,
and two or more Beneficiaries in that class survive, we will
pay each surviving Beneficiary his or her designated Share.
Unless you provide otherwise, we will then pay the share(s)
otherwise due to any deceased Beneficiary(ies) to the
surviving Beneficiaries pro rata based on the relationship
that the designated percentage or fractional share of each
surviving Beneficiary bears to the total shares of all
alleges that it faces multiple liabilities due to the
competing claims. Plaintiff asked Defendants to settle and
resolve their controversies regarding the Life Benefit and
advised that it would abide by any decision they might reach
on the division of the Life Benefit of $29, 000. Defendants
have not settled their disputes, necessitating the filing of
the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to deposit funds,
Plaintiff deposited $29, 000 with the Clerk of the Court (d/e
Christina, and Kellen executed waivers of service (see docket
entries 5, 6, and 7) and their answers were due in May 2017.
No answers or other responses were filed.
was served with summons on April 20, 2017. See d/e
11. In letters dated April 24, 2017, both Marquita and Brooke
acknowledge receipt of the Summons and the Complaint. The
letters, which are notarized, also state: “Please
consider this my formal, written notice of non-participation
in pursuit of and confirmation that I do relinquish my
monetary benefit from the life insurance policy[.]”
See Letters (d/e 10-2, 10-3).
August 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Discharge (d/e
9) asking that Plaintiff be discharged from liability and
dismissed from this lawsuit with prejudice. Plaintiff ...