United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
PREMERA BLUE CROSS, a Washington non-profit corporation, Plaintiff,
MARY WINZ, TRACIE LESAN, JOYCE ARLENE NELSON f/n/a JOYCE ARLENE LESAN, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
INTERPLEADER, INJUNCTION, AND DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF PREMERA
A TSUCHIDA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY CONCLUSION
Premera Blue Cross (“Premera”) filed this
interpleader action against Defendants Mary Winz, Tracie
Lesan, and Joyce Arlene Nelson (formerly known as Joyce
Arlene Lesan). Dkt. 1. On July 26, 2017, Mary Winz and Tracie
Lesan filed their answer to the Complaint. Dkt. 18. Joyce
Nelson has not answered the Complaint.
before the Court is Premera's motion for interpleader,
injunction, and dismissal pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 22. Dkt.
19. Premera asks the Court to hold that (1) interpleader is
proper in this case, (2) Premera is dismissed from this
action subject only to its agreement to make payment to the
proper payee(s) as directed by the Court in its final
judgment, and (3) defendant-claimants are enjoined from
prosecuting any other claims against Premera relating to
Gerald Lesan's benefits under the Premera 401(k) Savings
Plan and the Premera Pension Equity Plan. Id.
Defendants did not file a response to Premera's motion.
Court concludes the requirements for interpleader under Rule
22 are satisfied. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction
over this action as it presents a federal question, Premera
has a good faith belief that there are competing claims to
the stake, and Premera is a disinterested stakeholder.
filed the complaint herein on May 3, 2017. Dkt. 1. Premera
alleged that it is in possession of potentially disputed
funds owed to the beneficiaries of Gerald Lesan
(“Gerald”), a participant in two plans offered by
Premera to its employees and governed by the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended
(“ERISA”). The first is the Premera 401(k)
Savings Plan (the “401(k) Plan”), and the second
is the Premera Pension Equity Plan (the “PEP, ”
and together with the 401(k) Plan, the “Plans”).
Id. ¶¶ 1, 12. Premera joined Mary Winz
(“Mary”), Tracie Lesan (“Tracie”),
and Joyce Nelson (“Joyce”) as potential
beneficiaries under the Plans. Id. ¶ 25.
Complaint alleged that Gerald initially designated Joyce, his
spouse, as the primary beneficiary of his benefits under both
Plans, and Mary as the secondary beneficiary of his benefits
under both Plans. Id. ¶ 13. Premera alleged
that Gerald and Joyce divorced effective December 12, 2016,
and Gerald's designation of Joyce as the beneficiary of
his benefits under both Plans was automatically revoked under
the terms of the Plans as a result of the divorce.
Id. However, a qualified domestic relations order
(“QDRO”) was entered that entitled Joyce to 50%
of Gerald's benefits under the 401(k) Plan, which has
been distributed to Joyce. Premera alleged that on December
16, 2016, Gerald designated his sister Tracie as the primary
beneficiary of his PEP benefits. Id. ¶ 17.
died on December 31, 2016. As a result of Gerald's death,
his PEP and 401(k) Plan benefits became payable. Premera
sought approval from all beneficiaries of the following
distribution of Gerald's remaining benefits under the
(1) Premera proposed that the portion of Gerald's 401(k)
Plan benefits not subject to the QDRO be paid to Mary,
because she is listed as the secondary beneficiary on
Gerald's 401(k) Plan beneficiary designation form dated
March 13, 2003, and became the primary beneficiary under the
terms and provisions of the 401(k) Plan when Gerald and
Joyce's marriage was dissolved on December 12, 2016.
Id. ¶ 22(a).
(2) Premera proposed that 100% of Gerald's PEP benefits
be distributed to Tracie, because she is listed as the
primary beneficiary on Gerald's PEP beneficiary
designation form dated December 16, 2016. Id. ¶
alleges that fewer than all defendants consented to
Premera's proposal with respect to the distribution of
Gerald's PEP and 401(k) Plan benefits. Id.
¶ 23. This proceeding followed.
Dispute as to Proper ...