Aetna Life Insurance Company v. Bowen, Civ. A. No. 17210-3.

Decision Date23 June 1969
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 17210-3.
Citation308 F. Supp. 1394
PartiesAETNA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. Marge BOWEN et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri

Roland C. Spradley, Kansas City, Mo., for plaintiff.

John C. Milholland, Harrisonville, Mo., for defendant Marge Bowen.

Richard F. Adams, of Slagle & Bernard, Kansas City, Mo., for defendant Marilyn J. Bowen.


BECKER, Chief Judge.

This is an action of interpleader filed by plaintiff Aetna Life Insurance Company under Section 1335, Title 28, U.S. C., involving the proceeds of a group life insurance policy, No. 53160, insuring the deceased, Richard H. Bowen. The defendants are the insured's widow, his divorced ex-wife, the children of the former marriage and the clerk of the Saline County, Kansas, District Court, to whose registry plaintiff had been ordered by that court to pay the proceeds of the policy.

The complaint alleges that on or about December 30, 1966, the deceased insured stipulated with defendant Marilyn J. Bowen, his former wife, "that he would keep certain life insurance, including the life insurance under plaintiff's group policy No. 53160, in effect on his life and would designate and maintain as beneficiaries of said insurance his minor children, defendants Laura Leslie Bowen, Joseph Harvey Bowen, and Suzanne Bowen"; that the stipulation was "approved" by the District Court of Saline County, Kansas, on February 24, 1967; that in January 1967, deceased "by Designation of Beneficiary card delivered to plaintiff did designate defendants Laura Leslie Bowen, Joseph Harvey Bowen and Suzanne Bowen as beneficiaries of his insurance under group policy No. 53160"; that "on or about September 24, 1968," the District Court of Saline County, Kansas, issued a temporary restraining order restraining deceased and his employer from altering the existing life insurance policy No. 53160; that a subsequent order and decree of that court entered "on or about" September 27, 1968, ordering deceased not to change the beneficiary of said policy, declaring any attempt to change such policy to be null, void and of no effect, and that any proceeds paid to deceased during his lifetime should be paid to the clerk of that court; that on September 26, 1968, deceased executed a new designation of beneficiary under group policy No. 53160 whereby he designated defendant Marge Bowen, his wife, as beneficiary, which designation card was received by plaintiff on September 30, 1968; and that deceased died on or about December 15, 1968.

Defendant Marge Bowen, by her motion filed March 25, 1969, now moves the Court for a summary judgment in her favor, contending that, under Kansas law, the restraining order had no retrospective effect;1 that the execution of the designation of beneficiary card by deceased was accomplished on September 20, 1969, as witnessed by one Joyce Stetler both on the card and by her uncontroverted affidavit filed with the motion, and that the stipulation plead by defendant, as incorporated into the final decree of divorce did not, as plaintiff originally alleged,2 state that deceased would "designate and maintain as beneficiaries" of the insurance policy here sued upon his minor children, but rather stated at paragraph 5:

"It is mutually agreed by the parties that the defendant may convert or change his life insurance which he now has in force but will keep $15,000.00 as a minimum on his life with the minor children of the parties as the beneficiary of the same * * *"

Defendant Marge Bowen's contentions with regard to the last fact are borne out by certified copies of the court order. Consequently, she contends that "there is no bona fide issue of fact; the documents and documentary positions are clear and the undisputed facts show the defendant Marge Bowen is entitled to judgment declaring her entitled to said insurance fund as a matter of law."

Movant, however, admits in her suggestions that if "in fact * * * decedent had stipulated and agreed and it was a part of the divorce decree that decedent had agreed to keep plaintiff's group policy of insurance in force with Laura Leslie Bowen, Joseph Harvey Bowen and Suzanne Bowen named as beneficiaries * * * then under the authority of Tivis v. Hulsey 148 Kan. 892, 84 P.2d 862 the minor defendants would have a valid claim to the proceeds." (Emphasis claimant's.) It is not clear from the divorce decree and the stipulation incorporated therein, which reads as quoted above, that such was the intention of the parties in making that agreement. The crucial paragraph is ambiguous. It is not clear whether it means that deceased might "convert or change" life insurance which he then has in force, except $15,000.00 thereof, which must be kept in force with...

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3 cases
  • Resolution Trust Corp. v. Gibson
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri
    • September 10, 1993
    ...of fact and cannot be resolved by summary judgment. Severson v. Fleck, 251 F.2d 920, 923 (8th Cir.1958); Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Bowen, 308 F.Supp. 1394, 1396 (W.D.Mo.1969). E.g., Leberman v. John Blair & Co., 880 F.2d 1555, 1559 (2d Cir.1989); Ryan v. Chromalloy American Corp., 877 F.2d 598......
  • Bjork v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • October 4, 1973
    ...F.2d 147, 149 (3d Cir. 1964); Seaboard Sur. Co. v. United States, 306 F.2d 855, 860 (9th Cir. 1962). 10 See Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Bowen, 308 F. Supp. 1394, 1396-1397 (W.D.Mo.1969). ...
  • Am. Gen. Life Ins. Co. v. Vision
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • November 19, 2019
    ...25 F. Supp. 3d at 1184. Good faith on behalf of the stakeholder is required to recover attorneys' fees. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Bowen, 308 F. Supp. 1394, 1397 (W.D. Mo. 1969); see also W.-S. Life Assur. Co. v. Lee, No. 4:13-CV-2499 CEJ, 2015 WL 2124753, at *2 (E.D. Mo.May 6, 2015) (listing, ......

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