United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
WEBBER WRIGHT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Life Insurance Company (“Primerica”) filed an
interpleader complaint pursuant to the Court's diversity
jurisdiction and Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure for a determination of the rights of Betty Jo
Woodall (“Betty Jo”) and Ila Elaine Reid
(“Ila”), adverse claimants to life insurance
proceeds on a policy (the “Policy”) issued to
Garvin Reid (“Garvin”). Ila counterclaimed, charging
Primerica with breach of contract for failure to pay her the
policy proceeds. Now before the Court are (1) Primerica's
motion for summary judgment as to Ila's counterclaim [ECF
Nos. 58, 59, 60], Ila's response in opposition [ECF Nos.
71, 72, 73], and Primerica's reply [ECF No. 74]; (2)
Betty Jo's motion for summary judgment as to the rightful
beneficiary [ECF Nos. 65, 66, 67] and Ila's response in
opposition [ECF Nos. 75, 76, 77]; and (3) Ila's motion
for summary judgment as to the rightful beneficiary [ECF Nos.
69, 68, 70], Betty Jo's response in opposition [ECF Nos.
78, 79, 80], Primerica's response in opposition [ECF Nos.
83, 84, 85],  and Reid's reply [ECF Nos. 86, 87].
After careful consideration, and for reasons that follow, the
Court grants Primerica's motion for summary judgment as
to Ila's counterclaim and grants Ila's motion for
summary judgment as to the rightful beneficiary entitled to
judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As a prerequisite to summary judgment, a
moving party must demonstrate “an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325
(1986). Once the moving party has properly supported
its motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must
“do more than simply show there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
non-moving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials
of his pleading but must come forward with ‘specific
facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 587.
“[A] genuine issue of material fact exists if: (1)
there is a dispute of fact; (2) the disputed fact is material
to the outcome of the case; and (3) the dispute is genuine,
that is, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either
party.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins.
Co., 49 F.3d 399, 401 (8th Cir. 1995).
otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. On
August 25, 1986, Primerica, then known as Massachusetts
Indemnity and Life Insurance Company, issued a life insurance
policy to Garvin (the “Policy”) insuring his life
in the face amount of $100, 000. The Policy included spousal
term insurance or a spousal rider, which provided a $50, 000
payment to Garvin, if alive, upon the death of the insured
spouse. The Policy named “Betty Jo Reid” as both
the principal beneficiary and the insured spouse, and Garvin
and Betty Jo's children (Kristy, Misty, Jodie, and Jerry)
were the designated contingent beneficiaries.
and Betty Jo divorced in 1992, and Betty Jo is now named
Betty Jo Woodall. Garvin married Ila on July 10, 1993. In
October 2001, Garvin contacted Primerica to confirm the
identity of the Policy beneficiary, and by letter dated
October 5, 2001, Primerica informed Garvin that “Betty
Jo Reid” was still listed as the principal beneficiary.
April 10, 2002, at Garvin's request, Primerica mailed him
a form titled “MULTIPURPOSE CHANGE FORM.” Later
that month, Primerica received a MULTIPURPOSE CHANGE FORM,
dated April 21, 2002, signed by Garvin, Ila, and two
witnesses. The form had three main sections, clearly
separated by box borders. The first section was titled
“NAME CHANGE;” the second, “TRANSFER
OWNERSHIP;” and the third, “CHANGE
BENEFICIARY.” The “CHANGE BENFICIARY”
section had three subsections: “PRINCIPAL BENEFICIARY,
” “CONTINGENT BENEFICIARY, ” AND
“SPOUSE RIDER BENEFICIARY.”
completed the NAME CHANGE and CHANGE BENEFICIARY sections of
the form that he submitted to Primerica. In the “NAME
CHANGE” section, a handwritten checkmark appeared
beside the selection “Insured Spouse;”
“Betty Reid” is written on a line reserved for
“Prior Name;” “Ila Elaine Reid” is
written on a line reserved for “New Name;” and
“marriage” is written on a line reserved for
“Reason for Change.” Under the “CHANGE
BENEFICIARY” section, which appears on page 2 of the
form, the following language appears:
All designations of present beneficiaries and elections of
settlement options pertaining to death benefits on the
referenced Policy are hereby revoked and the proceeds payable
under said Policy are to be paid to the following named
person[s] as specified below pursuant to the payment
provisions of said Policy, with the right to change the
following the foregoing language, the name “Ila Elaine
Reid” is handwritten on a line reserved for the
“Principal Beneficiary, ” the number
“100” appears on a line reserved for beneficiary
percentage allocation,  and the word “wife” is
written on a line reserved for relationship to the insured.
Garvin also supplied Ila's social security number and
birth date, as the form required.
Policy sets forth the procedure for changing beneficiaries as
CHANGE OF BENEFICIARY - A change of Beneficiary may only be
made by Notice to Us. Such Notice to Us must be signed by you
while the insured is still alive. A Beneficiary designated
irrevocably may not be changed except with the consent of
that Beneficiary. A change of Beneficiary will not be
effective until received at our Executive Office. When so
received, even if the insured is not then living, the change
of beneficiary will take effect on the date the Notice to Us
was signed, subject to any payment made by us in good faith
before receiving the change.
Policy defines “You” as “owner of the
Policy” and “Notice to Us” as
“information we have received at our Executive Office
which is written, signed by you, and is acceptable to
A letter to Garvin from Primerica, dated May 6, 2002, reads
We have received your request to process a change on your
policy. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete this
request without the ...