Sentry Life Insurance v. Chuchanis, 020314 OHCP, 2013-CV-01591

Docket Nº:2013-CV-01591
Opinion Judge:HON. CURT WERREN, Judge
Party Name:SENTRY LIFE INSURANCE, Plaintiff, v. ANDREW CHUCHANIS, et al., Defendant(s)
Case Date:February 03, 2014
Court:Court of Common Pleas of Ohio
 
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SENTRY LIFE INSURANCE, Plaintiff,

v.

ANDREW CHUCHANIS, et al., Defendant(s)

No. 2013-CV-01591

Court of Common Pleas of Ohio, Stark

February 3, 2014

          JUDGMENT ENTRY

          HON. CURT WERREN, Judge

         This case involves a dispute about who is entitled to receive life insurance proceeds. Sentry Life Insurance Company has deposited the proceeds with the Court and been dismissed from the case. Both of the remaining parties have filed for Summary Judgment.

         Facts:1

         Sentry Life Insurance company (" Sentry") issued life insurance policy number 73-05927-71 (the " Policy") to Tracy Veach Lytle Brown (" Tracy") in 1991. In March, 2013, Tracy died, thus giving rise to a $100, 000 payout under the Policy. In June, 2013, because two different people claimed entitlement to the proceeds, Sentry filed an interpleader action, obtained approval to deposit the funds and deposited $102, 161.36 with the Court.

         In 1991, at the time Sentry issued the Policy to Tracy, she selected Andrew Chuchanis (" Chuchanis") as the Policy's beneficiary and Christine Veach (" Veach") as the contingent beneficiary. In October 1998, seven years after obtaining the Policy, Tracy sent Sentry a letter indicating that she had gotten married, she had a name change, and she wanted to change her primary beneficiary from Chuchanis to her new husband, Richard Lytle. That same letter requested that Sentry send her confirmation of the changes.

         Later that month, Sentry responded to Tracy's letter, in pertinent part, as follows: " Enclosed is the form that is needed to change the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy." The letter enclosed a change of beneficiary form that required Tracy to list the name and address of her beneficiaries, sign in front of a witness who is not a beneficiary of the Policy, and provide the witness's signature. The Sentry letter and form were sent to Tracy at her then-current address--the same address where she received the quarterly premium invoices that she paid.

         The Policy provision regarding change of beneficiaries reads as follows:

" Change of BeneficiaryYou may change the beneficiary during the insured's lifetime, The change requires satisfactory written notice to us. After we record it, the change is effective from the date you signed the notice. The insured does not have to be living at the time we record the change for it to be effective. We will not be responsible for any payment we make or other action we take before we record the change."

         Tracy never completed the change of beneficiary form Sentry sent to her in October, 1998. Richard Lytle (the person Tracy named in her letter to Sentry) died in 2000. In 2001, Tracy married John Brown. Later that year, Tracy sent a request to change her name as a result of that marriage. In response, Sentry mailed Tracy another change of beneficiary form. This form was also sent to Tracy's then-current address. Again, Tracy did not respond.

         On at least two occasions after the paperwork at issue in this case- once in 2009 and once in 2011- Tracy told her good friend that she still loved Chuchanis and that she intended him to have the Policy proceeds in the event of her death. (See Affidavit of Laliberte.)

         After...

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