United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
DOUGLAS A. COLEMAN, JR in his capacity as Special Administrator of the Estate of y L. Anstine, deceased, and in his capacity as next friend of M.A., a minor, and B.M., a minor PLAINTIFF
PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Defendant Prudential Insurance Company of
America's (“Prudential”) motion to dismiss
(Doc. 10) and brief in support (Doc. 12), Plaintiff Douglas
A. Coleman Jr.'s response (Doc. 24) and brief in support
(Doc. 25), and Prudential's reply (Doc. 33). For the
following reasons, the Court finds that Prudential's
motion to dismiss (Doc. 10) should be granted.
brings this action on behalf of both the estate and minor
children of Casey L. Anstine, seeking life insurance benefits
under the group life insurance policy (“the
policy”) issued by Prudential to the Secretary of
Veterans' Affairs under the Servicemembers' Group
Life Insurance Act (“SGLIA”), 35 U.S.C. §
1965, et seq.
4, 2006, Anstine was killed in a motor vehicle crash caused
by her husband, Brenton Wayne Linn, who was driving while
intoxicated. At the time of her death, Anstine had $400, 000
in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (“SGLI”)
coverage under the policy and had designated Linn as the
beneficiary of that coverage. After reviewing Linn's
claim, Prudential paid him the benefit in 2006.
6, 2007, Linn was found guilty of negligent homicide. On
April 7, 2011, Linn stipulated to causing the death of
Anstine in a civil action for wrongful death.
January 4, 2013, Coleman's counsel requested that
Prudential pay the benefit to Anstine's estate and minor
children because the benefit had been improperly payed to
Linn in violation of the Arkansas Slayer Statute. On April 5,
2013, Prudential responded and refused to pay.
31, 2017, Coleman filed a complaint (Doc 1-1) bringing four
claims related to the allegedly improper payment of the
benefit. Prudential moved to dismiss (Doc. 10) on the grounds
that Coleman's claims were not timely. On January 5,
2017, Coleman filed an amended complaint with leave of Court.
(Doc. 36). The Court previously entered an order indicating
that it would consider Prudential's motion to dismiss as
if it had been filed in response to the amended complaint.
(Doc. 35). Accordingly, the Court now analyzes
Prudential's motion to dismiss as it relates to
Coleman's amended complaint.
argues that there is no time limit to bring claims under the
SGLIA because the statute is silent as to the statute of
limitations. He further argues that his state law claims were
timely because the five-year Arkansas statute of limitations
began to run on April 5, 2013, when Prudential allegedly
breached the policy. Prudential argues that the five-year
Arkansas statute of limitations applies to both state law
claims and claims under the SGLIA. Prudential further argues
that the five-year statute of limitations began to run on
Anstine's death and, as such, Coleman's claims are
time barred. The Court finds that Coleman's claims were
court may dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) as barred by a statute of limitations if
the complaint itself shows that the claim is
time-barred.” Wong v. Well Fargo Bank N.A.,
789 F.3d 889, 897 (8th Cir. 2015).
Arkansas statute of limitations on actions to recover on a
life insurance policy is five years from the accrual of the
cause of action. First Pyramid Life Ins. Co. v.
Stoltz, 843 S.W.2d 842, 844 (Ark. 1993). The cause of
action accrues upon the death of the insured. Id.
the SGLIA does not contain a statute of limitations, it is
well settled that where Congress has not established a
statute of limitations for a federal cause of action, federal
courts borrow the forum state's limitations period for
the most analogous state law cause of action. North Star
Steel Co. v. Thomas, 515 U.S. 29, 35 (1995). The most
analogous state law cause of action to a claim under the
SGLIA is an action to recover on a life insurance policy.
Accordingly, Coleman was required to bring all of his claims
within five years of Anstine's death.
statute of limitations in this case began to run on June 4,
2006 - the date of Anstine's death. See First
Pyramid, 843 S.W.2d at 844. However, Coleman did not
file his complaint until July 31, 2017, well after the
five-year statute of limitations had run. Coleman offers no
reason why the statute of limitations should be equitably
tolled. Linn was found guilty of negligent homicide on July
6, 2007, but Coleman waited until January 4, 2013 (still over
five years if the limitations period were tolled until
Linn's conviction), to allege that Linn was not eligible
for the benefit under the Arkansas Slayer Statute. Coleman
clearly had the opportunity to request that Prudential pay
the benefit to Anstine's estate ...