Adams v. Margulis

Decision Date11 February 2021
Docket NumberCA 20-00287,1066
Citation191 A.D.3d 1478,141 N.Y.S.3d 630
Parties Joan Casilio ADAMS, Esq., Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Randy S. MARGULIS, Esq., Defendant-Appellant, and Kathrin L. Caccamise, Defendant-Respondent.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

RANDY S. MARGULIS, WILLIAMSVILLE, FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

J. ADAMS & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, WILLIAMSVILLE (JOAN CASILIO ADAMS OF COUNSEL), FOR PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT.

PRESENT: PERADOTTO, J.P., CARNI, NEMOYER, WINSLOW, AND BANNISTER, JJ.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

It is hereby ORDERED that the order so appealed from is unanimously reversed on the law without costs, the motion is denied and judgment is granted in favor of defendant Randy S. Margulis, Esq. as follows:

It is ADJUDGED AND DECLARED that defendant Kathrin L. Caccamise is not entitled to receive the proceeds of the subject life insurance policy held in escrow; and plaintiff is directed to return the escrow funds to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Memorandum: Plaintiff, an attorney, commenced this interpleader action as a stakeholder pursuant to CPLR 1006 seeking a declaration that defendant Kathrin L. Caccamise (wife), plaintiff's client in a divorce action, had a right to receive funds held in escrow by plaintiff and that plaintiff could terminate such escrow funds with payment to the wife. By way of background, plaintiff represented the wife and Randy S. Margulis, Esq. (defendant) represented Brian P. Caccamise (husband) in the divorce action. During the pendency of that action, the husband became ill with cancer

. Thereafter, upon the pretrial application of the wife, Supreme Court issued a "stipulated order" directing the husband's employer to name the wife as beneficiary on the husband's life insurance policy through the employer and ordering the husband to immediately name the wife as the beneficiary of that life insurance policy, his employee 401k account, and his private individual retirement account. The husband died the day after that order was granted. A few days later, in a letter to the court and copied to plaintiff, defendant informed the court that the husband had died and asserted that, as a consequence, the pending action terminated by operation of law. Nevertheless, upon plaintiff's request, the court subsequently issued an "amended stipulated order," made retroactive to the date of the initial stipulated order, clarifying for the employer the accounts on which the wife was to be named as beneficiary.

Approximately three weeks after the husband's death, plaintiff sent a letter to the court's clerk and copied defendant requesting that the court issue another amended order naming the wife as beneficiary on a different life insurance policy issued to the husband by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife). The husband's parents, who had purportedly provided the MetLife policy to the husband when he was 18 years old and paid the premiums thereon until the early years of the husband's marriage, were apparently the named beneficiaries on the MetLife policy. In a "second amended stipulated order" issued several weeks after the husband's death, the court directed MetLife to name the wife, retroactive to the initial order, as beneficiary on its policy and ordered the now-deceased husband to immediately name the wife as beneficiary on the MetLife policy. Defendant would later dispute that he had consented to the "second amended stipulated order." In any event, after receiving an objection from defendant, the court directed that the insurance proceeds on the MetLife policy, which had been sent by check to the wife, be held in escrow by plaintiff pending review of the issue.

After plaintiff commenced this interpleader action, she moved for summary judgment and defendant opposed the motion, including on the ground that the "second amended stipulated order" should be vacated because the husband died before it was granted. The court granted the motion and directed that the escrow funds, minus fees and costs, be turned over to the wife. A Justice of this Court stayed enforcement of the order pending appeal. Defendant appeals, and we now reverse.

We agree with defendant that the court erred in granting plaintiff's motion. It is well settled that "where one party to a divorce action dies prior to the rendering of a judicial determination which dissolves or terminates the marriage, the action abates inasmuch as the marital relationship between the parties no longer exists" ( Sperber v. Schwartz , 139 A.D.2d 640, 642, 527 N.Y.S.2d 279 [2d Dept. 1988], lv dismissed 73 N.Y.2d 871, 537 N.Y.S.2d 496, 534 N.E.2d 334 [1989], lv denied 74 N.Y.2d 606, 543 N.Y.S.2d 399, 541 N.E.2d 428 [1989] ). "Although an exception to this rule exists where the court has made a final adjudication of divorce but has not performed ‘the mere ministerial act of entering the final judgment,’ " that exception does not apply...

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3 cases
  • Bomer v. Dean
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • June 17, 2021
    ...166 N.E.2d 519 [1960], mot to amend remittitur granted 7 N.Y.2d 996, ––– N.Y.S.2d ––––, ––– N.E.2d –––– [1960] ; Adams v. Margulis , 191 A.D.3d 1478, 1480, 141 N.Y.S.3d 630 [4th Dept. 2021] ; First Metlife Invs. Ins. Co. v. Filippino , 170 A.D.3d 672, 674, 93 N.Y.S.3d 594 [2d Dept. 2019] ).......
  • Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Quinn
    • United States
    • New York City Court
    • July 21, 2022
    ...see also: Bosun's Locker, Ltd. V. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies, 147 A.d.2d 907, 537 N.Y.S.2d 377 [4th Dept. 1989] ; Adams v. Margulis, 191 A.D.3d 1478, 141 N.Y.S.3d 630 [4th Dept. 2021] ).Defendant Quinn's Affidavit in Opposition filed on March 10, 2022 states:"That I finally picked up the......
  • Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Quinn
    • United States
    • New York City Court
    • July 21, 2022
    ...1627 [4th Dept 2011]; see also: Bosun's Locker, Ltd. V. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies, 147 A.D.2d 907 [4th Dept 1989]; Adams v. Margulis, 191 A.D.3d 1478 [4th Dept 2021]). Quinn's Affidavit in Opposition filed on March 10, 2022 states: "That I finally picked up the replacement truck on May ......

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