Boggs v. Boggs, Civ. A. No. 92-4174.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
Writing for the CourtMcNAMARA
Citation849 F. Supp. 462
PartiesSandra Jean BOGGS v. Thomas F. BOGGS, et al.
Decision Date09 March 1994
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 92-4174.

849 F. Supp. 462

Sandra Jean BOGGS
v.
Thomas F. BOGGS, et al.

Civ. A. No. 92-4174.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana.

March 9, 1994.


849 F. Supp. 463

James F. Willeford, New Orleans, LA, for Sandra Jean Boggs.

Jimmy N. Dimos, Monroe, LA, for Thomas F. Boggs.

Guy L. Deano, Jr., Mandeville, LA, for Harry P. Boggs and David B. Boggs.

McNAMARA, District Judge.

This is a declaratory judgment action wherein Plaintiff seeks to have this court declare that ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., preempts Louisiana's community property laws. After Plaintiff filed her Motion for Summary Judgment, the parties informed the court that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that this entire matter should be tried on stipulated facts. Having carefully reviewed the stipulated facts, the arguments of counsel and the applicable law, the court renders the following decision.

I. FACTS

Isaac Boggs, Jr. was married to his first wife, Dorothy McDonald Boggs, from the date of his employment with South Central Bell on June 18, 1949 until her death on August 14, 1979. During their marriage, Isaac and Dorothy Boggs had three sons; Thomas Frank Boggs, Harry Maurice Boggs, and David Bruce Boggs, who are the Defendants in this case. Pursuant to Dorothy Boggs' will, Isaac Boggs, Jr. received one-third of her estate and the lifetime usufruct of the remaining two-thirds of the estate, whose naked ownership was inherited by Defendants. The Sworn Descriptive List of assets filed in Dorothy Boggs' succession included the Bell System Savings Plan for Salaried Employees with a value of $42,388.57 at the time of her death, with her one-half interest valued at $21,194.29.

Isaac Boggs, Jr. married Plaintiff, Sandra Boggs, on April 5, 1980, and no children were born of this marriage. Isaac Boggs, Jr. retired from South Central Bell after 36 years of service on September 1, 1985. Upon his retirement, Isaac Boggs, Jr. received $151,628.94 which was the distribution from the BellSouth Management Savings Plan (formerly called BellSouth Systems Savings Plan for Salaried Employees). The entirety of these funds were "rolled over" into an IRA account at Delaware Charter Guarantee Trust Company. Isaac Boggs, Jr. made no withdrawals from the IRA account prior to his death on February 16, 1989, at which time the IRA account was valued at $180,778.05. In addition to the distribution from the Savings Plan, Isaac Boggs, Jr. received monthly retirement payments from September 1, 1985, through the date of his death on February 16, 1989, in the amount of $1,777.67

849 F. Supp. 464
per month. Thereafter, the survivor's life-time annuity pension has been paid to Plaintiff, and she was the named beneficiary of the IRA plan

Under the terms of the BellSouth ESOP, Isaac Boggs, Jr. acquired 96 shares of AT & T stock which were distributed to him when he retired. In addition, the Plan included life insurance policies payable to Plaintiff as the named beneficiary. The BellSouth Management Savings Plan, the ESOP Plan, and all retirement benefits and employee benefit plans of South Central Bell are qualified plans subject to the provisions of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Retirement Equity Act of 1984, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. The IRA account at Delaware is a qualified Individual Retirement Account under IRC Section 401, et seq.

Two of the Defendants herein, Harry and David Boggs, have filed an action in state court claiming that they are entitled to the following:

1. An accounting of the usufruct enjoyed by Isaac Boggs, Jr. over that portion of the retirement payments attributable to Dorothy Boggs' community interest in the retirement plan and the payment of a percentage of the pension plan payments from September 1, 1985 through February 16, 1989;
2. A percentage of the survivors' annuity payable to Sandra Boggs from February of 1989 until her death;
3. A percentage of the IRA account which was created in the "roll over" of Isaac Boggs, Jr's distribution of the BellSouth Management Savings Plan, based on Dorothy Boggs' community interest in those funds; and
4. A portion of the ESOP shares of AT & T stock.

On December 17, 1992, Plaintiff filed her Complaint for Declaratory Judgment seeking a ruling that ERISA preempts the application of Louisiana's community property and succession laws to the assets of, or the benefits payable under, the plan and/or the IRA.

II. ANALYSIS

Louisiana is in the minority of states that provide for a community property regime among spouses where "each spouse owns a present undivided one-half interest in the community property." La.Civ.Code Ann. art. 2336 (West 1994). Under Louisiana's community property regime, a non-employee spouse is granted a right to claim pension and survivorship benefits even if such do not become payable until after the community is dissolved as long as both the pension and the community coexist for some period of time. T.L. James & Co. v. Montgomery, 332 So.2d 834 (La.1975) and Sims v. Sims, 358 So.2d 919 (La.1978). The Court's reasoning in these two cases was that the future pension right, which was being built up during the existence of the community, constituted "an incorporeal, movable right" and had to be so classified at the dissolution of the community. T.L. James & Co., 332 So.2d at 851. Under Louisiana law, therefore, Dorothy Boggs owned a substantial interest in the pension and retirement plans of Isaac Boggs, Jr. because she was married to him during thirty of the thirty-six years that he was employed with South Central Bell.

While Plaintiff does not refute that Louisiana's community property laws operate as described above, Plaintiff argues that ERISA preempts state community property law. Plaintiff's preemption argument relies upon a single provision of ERISA. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that section 514(a) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a) (1976), explicitly preempts the state law at issue. Section 514(a) provides that ERISA...

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9 practice notes
  • Boggs v. Boggs, 9679
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 2, 1997
    ...the sons' claim to an interest in the disputed retirement benefits. The District Court granted summary judgment against Sandra Boggs. 849 F.Supp. 462 (1994). It found that, under Louisiana community property law, Dorothy had an ownership interest in her husband's pension plan benefits built......
  • Ashley Healthcare Plan v. Dillard (In re Guardianship of O.D.), No. 2014–CA–00322–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 6, 2015
    ...its intent to preempt the state law and 2) the state law does major damage to a clear and substantial federal interest. Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 465 (E.D.La.1994) (citing Hisquierdo, 439 U.S. at 581, 99 S.Ct. 802 ), aff'd 82 F.3d 90, rev'd 520 U.S. 833, 117 S.Ct. 1754, 138 L.Ed.2d 4......
  • In re Jones, Bankruptcy No. 94-01296
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. District of Columbia Circuit
    • March 26, 1997
    ...in federal pension statutes have looked to this definition. Rodney L. Powell, 101 T.C. 489, 497, 1993 WL 488601 (1993); Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 464 n. 1 (E.D.La.1994). This definition precludes affixing the label "alienation" to the attaching of a tax lien because that act does not......
  • Clardy v. ATS, Inc. Employee Welfare Benefit Plan, No. 1:95CV135-D-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Mississippi
    • March 26, 1996
    ...its intent to preempt the state law and 2) the state law does major damage to a clear and substantial federal interest. Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 465 (E.D.La.1994) (citing Hisquiedo, 439 U.S. at 581, 99 S.Ct. at ERISA does indeed state its intent to preempt state law by positive enac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Boggs v. Boggs, 9679
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 2, 1997
    ...the sons' claim to an interest in the disputed retirement benefits. The District Court granted summary judgment against Sandra Boggs. 849 F.Supp. 462 (1994). It found that, under Louisiana community property law, Dorothy had an ownership interest in her husband's pension plan benefits built......
  • Ashley Healthcare Plan v. Dillard (In re Guardianship of O.D.), No. 2014–CA–00322–SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 6, 2015
    ...its intent to preempt the state law and 2) the state law does major damage to a clear and substantial federal interest. Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 465 (E.D.La.1994) (citing Hisquierdo, 439 U.S. at 581, 99 S.Ct. 802 ), aff'd 82 F.3d 90, rev'd 520 U.S. 833, 117 S.Ct. 1754, 138 L.Ed.2d 4......
  • In re Jones, Bankruptcy No. 94-01296
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. District of Columbia Circuit
    • March 26, 1997
    ...in federal pension statutes have looked to this definition. Rodney L. Powell, 101 T.C. 489, 497, 1993 WL 488601 (1993); Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 464 n. 1 (E.D.La.1994). This definition precludes affixing the label "alienation" to the attaching of a tax lien because that act does not......
  • Clardy v. ATS, Inc. Employee Welfare Benefit Plan, No. 1:95CV135-D-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Mississippi
    • March 26, 1996
    ...its intent to preempt the state law and 2) the state law does major damage to a clear and substantial federal interest. Boggs v. Boggs, 849 F.Supp. 462, 465 (E.D.La.1994) (citing Hisquiedo, 439 U.S. at 581, 99 S.Ct. at ERISA does indeed state its intent to preempt state law by positive enac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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