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Gavin v. Prudential Office of Servicemen's Group Life Ins. Co.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 5, 2014

PATRICIA GAVIN, Plaintiff,
v.
PRUDENTIAL OFFICE OF SERVICEMEN'S GRP. LIFE INS. CO., et al., Defendants

PATRICIA GAVIN, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For PRUDENTIAL OFFICE OF SERVICEMEN'S GROUP LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, INC, Defendant: Kathy Dianne Bailey, BAILEY LAW, PC, Washington, DC; Nada M. Peters, PRO HAC VICE, D'ARCAMBAL OUSLEY & CUYLER BURK LLP, Parsippany, NJ.

Page 333

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Patricia Gavin has filed a Complaint against six defendants: Prudential Life Insurance Company's Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance; the estate of her former spouse, decedent Lt. Col. Christopher Edward Gavin; and four alleged beneficiaries to the decedent's life insurance policy--Christopher Patrick Gavin, Katherine Gavin, Laura Pate as conservator for Tyler Davis, and Markana Davis. Pending before the Court is defendant Prudential's motion to dismiss, or alternatively for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the responses and replies thereto, the applicable law, and the record as a whole, Prudential's motion

Page 334

to dismiss the Complaint is GRANTED as to all defendants for the following reasons.

I. BACKGROUND

In March 2012, Lt. Col. Gavin (the decedent) and his wife, Tamara Gavin, were found dead in their Louisiana home. Compl., ECF No. 1, at 1. Plaintiff is Lt. Col. Gavin's ex-wife. Id. Although it is difficult to discern the precise claims from her Complaint, Plaintiff appears to allege she is being defrauded out of certain life insurance benefits stemming from her ex-husband's death. Id. ¶ ¶ 1-5. Ms. Gavin offers several assertions of fraud in her Complaint, including that Tamara Gavin and Tamara's mother forged a waiver of survivor benefits in order to profit from Lt. Col. Gavin's death. Id. ¶ 3. Ms. Gavin also alleges Tamara Gavin attempted to murder Lt. Col. Gavin in March 2012 after blackmailing him regarding Plaintiff's identity theft. Id. ¶ 4.

Plaintiff seeks relief from the Court on the theory that the defendant beneficiaries are the parties perpetrating the fraud she describes. Id. ¶ ¶ 9-11. Ms. Gavin does not appear to claim to be a beneficiary of the life insurance policy. See generally id. The Complaint does not specify which particular beneficiaries are responsible for which conduct, but claims that through " the criminal actions of beneficiaries" and others, her identity was stolen and her livelihood was obstructed. Id. ¶ ¶ 3-10. For relief, Plaintiff asks the Court to stop distribution of the life insurance funds, to attach the funds for the alleged fraud, and to award damages for her emotional stress and loss of income. Id. at ¶ ¶ 11-12.

A. The Policy

The decedent Lt. Col. Gavin appears to have been an active service member of the U.S. Air Force. Id. As such, he was enrolled in the Servicemember's Group Life Insurance Policy (" SGLI" or " the Policy" ), which is issued by Prudential to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mem. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (" MTD Mem." ), ECF No. 15-1, at 1. This Policy appears to be the only life insurance policy at issue in this case.[1]

Death benefits under the Policy are paid out according to statute. See 38 U.S.C. § 1970. The priority beneficiary paid under the statute is a person, or set of persons, designated by the insured and alive at the time of the insured's death. 38 U.S.C. § 1970(a). If there is no such living beneficiary, the widow or widower of the insured receives the benefits. Id. If there is no living widow or widower, the insured's children (or those children's offspring, if any of the insured's children are deceased) receive the benefits. Id. If no such children exist, the parents of the insured receive the benefits. Id. If the insured has no beneficiary, widow or widower, children, or living parents, the executor of the insured's estate receives the benefits. Id. Finally, if none of these parties exists or is living, the insured's next of kin receives the benefit under the laws of domicile where the insured was living when he died. Id.

In addition to identifying the contingent beneficiaries who can receive Policy benefits, the statute also limits who cannot receive benefits. 38 U.S.C. ยง 1970(g) proscribes taxation of Policy payments, and creditors may not ...


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