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Hogan v. Jackson Nat'l Life Ins. Co.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

October 30, 2015

ANNEMARIE HOGAN, Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
JACKSON NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff,
v.
ESTATE OF WILLIAM HOGAN, by and through its duly appointed legal representative, Counterclaim Defendant

          For Annemarie Hogan, Plaintiff: Joseph F. Hook, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joseph F. Hook, Attorney at Law, Middletown, RI.

         For Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Defendant, Counter Claimant: Christian B. W. Stephens, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, Boston, MA.

         Estate of William Hogan, By its duty appointed representative, Annie-Laurie Hogan, Counter Defendant, Pro se, Middletown, RI.

Page 221

         MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         William E. Smith, Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff Jackson National Life Insurance Company's (" Jackson" ) Motion for Discharge from Liability and for Additional Interpleader Relief. (ECF No. 22.) Jackson moves the Court to dismiss it from this action with prejudice, discharge it from liability pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2361, and grant it reasonable attorney's fees and costs. (Id.) Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant Annemarie Hogan (" Ms. Hogan" ) assents to Jackson's dismissal and discharge requests, but objects to its motion for fees and costs. (ECF No. 23.) For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Jackson's Motion to be dismissed from this case and discharged from liability, but DENIES Jackson's request for attorney's fees and costs.

         1. Background

         In the year 2000, William Hogan (" Mr. Hogan" ) purchased a life insurance policy (the " Policy" ) from Jackson with a benefit of $200,000. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1-2.) The Policy named Mr. Hogan's then spouse, Ms. Hogan, as the primary beneficiary. (Jackson Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion (" Jackson Mem." ) 2, ECF No. 22-1.) At some point after purchasing the life insurance policy, Mr. and Ms. Hogan divorced. (Id.) Mr. Hogan relocated to New York, while Ms. Hogan continued to reside in Rhode Island. (Id. at 2; Am. Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 1-2.) Ms. Hogan, nevertheless, remained the primary beneficiary on the Policy for all times relevant to this action. (Jackson Mem. at 2.)

         On December 23, 2013, Mr. Hogan died. (Id.) When Ms. Hogan attempted to collect the Policy proceeds, Jackson denied her claim, stating in an email from Jackson's Associate General Counsel:

Mr. Hogan died a resident of the state of New York. New York Statute 5-1.4 provides that a divorce revokes a beneficiary designation made to a former spouse.
It is our position that the statute disqualifies Ms. Hogan from receiving the policy's death benefit proceeds.
We will make payment accordingly unless you present us with a court order to the contrary within 30 days of today's date.

(Hogan Obj. Ex 2, ECF No. 23-2.) When Ms. Hogan did not present a court order within 30 days, Jackson notified her that it was going to proceed as outlined in the email, i.e., it determined that Ms. Hogan was disqualified from receiving the proceeds of the Policy. (Id.)

         After receiving Jackson's second denial letter, Ms. Hogan commenced a declaratory action in Rhode Island Superior Court, seeking, inter alia, a ...


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