United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”) brought this
interpleader suit under 28 U.S.C. § 1335(a) against
DaVinci Moore and Barbara Smith to resolve their competing
claims to the benefits of a life insurance policy held by
Willie Moore (“Decedent”), who died on April 26,
2017. Doc. 1. After MetLife deposited the policy's funds
in the Clerk's registry account and was discharged from
further liability, Docs. 10, 18 (Bucklo, J.), the court held
a bench trial between Moore and Smith-both proceeding pro
se-to determine the policy's beneficiary. Doc. 48.
After the trial, and at the court's request, Doc. 49,
MetLife submitted additional evidence concerning the policy,
to Civil Rule 52(a), the court enters the following Findings
of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The Findings of Fact are
based on the evidence presented at the bench trial and the
evidence MetLife filed several weeks later, which drew no
objection from Moore or Smith. To the extent that any
Findings of Fact may be considered Conclusions of Law, they
shall be deemed Conclusions of Law, and vice versa. After
carefully considering the evidence and assessing the
witnesses' credibility, the court awards judgment to
Smith in the amount of the funds currently in the Clerk's
registry account for this case.
MetLife issued a life insurance policy (Policy No.
896431649UL) with a face value of $40, 000 to Decedent on
September 1, 1989. Doc. 50-1 at 443. When the policy issued,
Decedent designated his son, Moore, as the policy's
beneficiary. Id. at 68, 456.
June 2013, Decedent created an online account with MetLife to
manage his life insurance policy. Doc. 50 at ¶¶
4-6. Decedent made his 2016 and 2017 monthly premium payments
for the MetLife policy through an automatic debit connected
with his Chase bank account. Id. at ¶ 11.
Decedent's health began declining in late 2016. Doc. 48,
Moore Testimony. At all relevant times, Moore resided in the
Chicago area and Moore's son, DaVinci Moore, Jr.
(“Moore Jr.”), lived with Decedent in Chicago.
Ibid. As Decedent's illness became more serious,
Smith, Decedent's daughter, came from Minnesota to stay
with him in Chicago between March and May 2017. Id.,
Smith Testimony. Doris Walker and “Joyce, ”
Moore's sister and cousin, respectively, also stayed with
Decedent while he was ill. Id., Moore Testimony. In
addition, Decedent's friend Carol occasionally spent the
night at his home. Ibid.
During a hospital visit in early April 2017, Decedent's
doctors told him that he had terminal cancer. Ibid.
Several family members-including Moore, Smith, and Walker-
were present for that conversation, which took place in the
afternoon. Ibid.; id., Walker Testimony.
Although Moore did not recall the precise day that
conversation occurred, and no party introduced Decedent's
medical records, Moore testified that Decedent called the
police (of which more in a moment) the day after the
conversation. Id., Moore Testimony. Because the
court finds Moore's basic timeline credible, and because
the police report Moore submitted to MetLife reflects that
Decedent called the police on April 9, 2017, Doc. 50-1 at
80-82, the court finds that Decedent and his family learned
that his cancer was terminal during the afternoon of April 8,
April 8, 2017 at around 10:57 a.m. Eastern time, MetLife
received a request through Decedent's online account to
change the beneficiary of his life insurance policy from
Moore to Smith. Doc. 50-2 at 3; Doc. 50 at ¶ 3.
change a life insurance beneficiary through an online
account, MetLife first required the policyholder to enter his
username and password. Doc. 50 at ¶ 8. MetLife collected
the Internet Protocol (“IP”) address associated
with all such requests. Ibid. The IP address
associated with the April 8, 2017 beneficiary change request
for Decedent's policy identified the internet service
provider as Comcast Cable Communications in Chicago,
Illinois. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 9.
After acknowledging receipt of the beneficiary change request
in an April 8, 2017 email to firstname.lastname@example.org email
address associated with Decedent's online MetLife
account-MetLife on April 11, 2017 approved the beneficiary
change from Moore to Smith. Id. at ¶¶ 3,
8, 13. That same day, MetLife sent a letter to Decedent's
home address confirming the beneficiary change. Id.
at ¶¶ 8, 13.
Decedent and his family returned home from the hospital on
April 8, 2017 immediately after learning that his illness was
terminal, the family cooked and ate a meal. Doc. 48, Moore
Testimony; id., Walker Testimony. The next day,
Decedent called the police after he discovered that an
expandable file folder containing various important
documents, including Moore Jr.'s social security card,
was missing. Id., Moore Testimony; Doc. 50-1 at
According to the Incident Report prepared by the Chicago
Police Department that Moore faxed to MetLife on May 1, 2017,
Decedent spoke with the police around 4:37 p.m. on April 9,
2017. Doc. 50-1 at 81-82. He estimated that his file folder
went missing between April 8, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. and April 9,
2017 at 4:00 p.m. Ibid.
Around the same time, Decedent called to freeze his Chase
credit card account. Id. at 83; Doc. 48, Moore
Testimony. Realizing that Moore Jr.'s social security
card was in the missing folder, Decedent instructed Moore Jr.
to log onto Decedent's laptop computer and