United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
SUN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA, Plaintiff-in-Interpleader,
MARYANNAH O'CONNOR and THERESA WYSONG, Defendants-in-Interpleader.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss by
Plaintiff-in-Interpleader Sun Life Assurance Company of
Canada (Dkt. No. 22). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada issued a group insurance
policy to Rockwood Service Corporation as part of an employee
welfare benefit plan. (Dkt. No. 1 at 2.) The Insured, David
O'Connor, was a Rockwood employee and acquired coverage
for certain benefits under this plan, including life
insurance. (Id.) The Insured's wife,
Defendant-in-Interpleader Theresa Wysong, was the primary
beneficiary for his group life insurance benefit.
29, 2015, the Insured turned 65 and lost coverage under the
Rockwood group policy. (Id.) On June 16, 2015, Sun
Life sent the Insured a letter and application allowing him
to convert his group coverage into an individual policy.
(Id.) The Insured had until July 16, 2015, to return
this application to Sun Life. (Id. at 3.)
2, 2015, the Insured signed the application. (Id.)
On July 13, 2015, the Insured submitted the application
converting the group coverage to an individual policy
(“the Policy”) and paid the associated premium.
(Id.) The primary beneficiary listed on the Policy
was the Insured's daughter, Defendant-in-Interpleader
Maryannah O'Connor. (Id.) The contingent
beneficiary was the Insured's son, John O'Connor.
(Id.) The Policy was issued to the Insured in the
amount of $150, 000.00. (Id.)
22, 2015, the Insured passed away. (Id.) On July 23,
2015, Sun Life received a fax from the Insured's son,
Israel O'Connor. (Id.; see also Dkt.
No. 24-1 at 4.) The fax included a copy of the Insured's
July 2 conversion application, as well as the Insured's
signed and notarized declaration purporting to revoke
“any and all power of attorney documents” that
Wysong had over the Policy. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) The
Insured indicated that he wanted to keep his daughter
Maryannah as the Policy's primary beneficiary and his son
John as the secondary beneficiary. (Id.) The
Insured's declaration is dated July 22, 2015.
(Id.) Three witnesses attested to witnessing the
declaration: John O'Connor, Israel O'Connor, and Jeff
August 21, 2015, Sun Life sent a letter to Maryannah
O'Connor providing her instructions on how to file a
claim under the Policy. (Id. at 3.) That day, Sun
Life also sent the same instructions to Wysong, at
Wysong's request. (Id. at 3-4.)
August 31, 2015, Wysong sent a letter to Sun Life making a
claim for the Insured's life insurance proceeds.
(Id. at 4.) Wysong stated that she was the primary
beneficiary under the group policy; that she had been removed
as a beneficiary when the group policy was converted; that
the Insured was incapable of changing the beneficiaries
because of his declining physical and mental health; and that
the Insured's children took advantage of the
Insured's condition to influence him to remove Wysong as
the primary beneficiary on the group policy and replace her
with his children on the individual policy. (Id.)
October 12, 2015, Maryannah O'Connor also made a claim to
the insurance proceeds under the Policy. (Id.)
Life was thus unsure as to the proper recipient of the Policy
proceeds. (Id. at 4-5.) Sun Life filed a complaint
for interpleader on May 31, 2016. (Id.) On September
9, 2016, per the Court's order, Sun Life deposited the
insurance proceeds plus interest into the court registry.
(Dkt. No. 14 at 1.) Sun Life now asks the Court to dismiss
Sun Life from this case with prejudice, to “enter an
order discharging Sun Life from any and all liability arising
out of the subject life insurance policy and proceeds,
” and to award Sun Life its reasonable fees and costs.
(Dkt. No. 22 at 1.)
opposes the motion, arguing that Sun Life may have been
negligent in processing the change of beneficiary request.
(Dkt. No. 24 at 2.) Wysong asks the Court to dismiss Sun Life
without prejudice, to find that Sun Life is not discharged
from future liability, and to deny Sun Life fees and costs.
(Id. at 1.) In the alternative, Wysong asks the
Court to “stay any dismissal for a period of 90 days so
that Ms. Wysong can better assess through discovery the
nature of the information Sun Life had at its disposal when
it accepted improperly obtained documents that changed [the
Insured]'s insurance policy to Ms. Wysong's
detriment.” (Id. at 3.)
an interpleader action, the ‘stakeholder' of a sum
of money sues all those who might have claim to the money,
deposits the money with the district court, and lets the
claimants litigate who is entitled to the money.”
Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261,
1265 (9th Cir. 1992). The Court first determines whether
there is a single fund at issue with two or more adverse
claims to the fund. Mack v. ...