Hallingby v. Hallingby, Docket No. 08-1866-cv.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtKearse
Citation574 F.3d 51
Docket NumberDocket No. 08-1866-cv.
Decision Date24 July 2009
PartiesJo Davis HALLINGBY, as Executrix of the Estate of Paul Hallingby, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Mai V. HALLINGBY, now known as Mai V. Harrison, Defendant-Appellee, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Defendant.
574 F.3d 51
Jo Davis HALLINGBY, as Executrix of the Estate of Paul Hallingby, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Mai V. HALLINGBY, now known as Mai V. Harrison, Defendant-Appellee,
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Defendant.
Docket No. 08-1866-cv.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Argued: April 21, 2009.
Final briefs submitted: April 28, 2009.
Decided: July 24, 2009.

[574 F.3d 52]

Richard H. Dolan, New York, NY, (Schlam Stone & Dolan, New York, NY, on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appellant.

James G. McCarney, New York, NY, (Thomas E. Engel, Katherine B. Thornburgh, Howrey, New York, NY, on the brief), for Defendant-Appellee.

[574 F.3d 53]

Before: KEARSE, SACK, and HALL, Circuit Judges.

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:


Plaintiff Jo Davis Hallingby ("plaintiff"), as executrix of the estate ("Estate") of her late husband Paul Hallingby, Jr. ("Hallingby"), appeals from a final judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Victor Marrero, Judge, dismissing her complaint against defendant Mai V. Hallingby, Hallingby's former wife who is now known as Mai V. Harrison ("Harrison"), for enforcement of a provision of the divorce settlement between Hallingby and Harrison by which Harrison is alleged to have waived her entitlement to survivor benefits under Hallingby's annuities. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that plaintiff's claims are foreclosed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. On appeal, plaintiff contends that New York State law, rather than ERISA, governs and that under state law Harrison's waiver is enforceable. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that plaintiff's claims are not governed by ERISA, and we remand for adjudication of her claims under state law.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Hallingby's Marriages, Divorce, and Pension Benefits

The events are largely undisputed. Harrison and Hallingby were married in 1983. At that time, Hallingby was a participant in the pension plan ("Plan") for employees of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. and Affiliates ("Merrill Lynch"). Under the Plan, Hallingby was to receive a monthly pension following his retirement; after his death, the pension would continue to be paid to his survivor beneficiary at a reduced rate. In 1984 and 1986, Hallingby named Harrison as his beneficiary. Hallingby retired from Merrill Lynch on October 1, 1986, at which time his benefits, and those of his beneficiary, vested.

In December 1988, the Plan was terminated. In order to satisfy its obligations to its employees, as required by ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. § 1341(b)(3)(A)(i); 29 C.F.R. § 4001.2, Merrill Lynch purchased group annuity ("Annuity") contracts from defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("MetLife"). These contracts provided that "[i]n the case of any annuity that has provision for payment to a beneficiary, the designation of beneficiary may be changed by filing written notice of the change with Metropolitan on an appropriate form" (Annuity ¶ 4.5); that "[i]f both the Annuitant and the survivor annuitant are alive on the Annuity Commencement Date, the Annuitant will not have the right to change the survivor annuitant for any reason" (id. ¶ 3.3(B)); but that MetLife "will honor any valid court order relating to . . . marital property rights to a Spouse . . . or other dependent of an Annuitant covered under this Contract if such order does not require payments under a form of benefit not otherwise available under this Contract nor increase the present value of the benefit payable" (id. ¶ 3.19).

In June 1994, Harrison and Hallingby were divorced. They had entered into a settlement agreement that provided, inter alia, that "the parties acknowledge that they have no right, title or interest in any of the bank accounts, securities, pension plans, retirement plans, profit sharing plans, annuities or IRAs now in the name of the other, whether in the other's sole name or jointly or in trust for another." (Settlement Agreement between Paul Hallingby, Jr., and Mai V. Hallingby dated May 5, 1994 ("Settlement Agreement"), art. II., ¶ 2 (emphases added).) The

574 F.3d 54

judgment granting Hallingby the divorce incorporated the parties' Settlement Agreement and provided that the court "retains jurisdiction in this matter concurrently with the Family Court, for the purpose of specifically enforcing such of the provisions of that agreement as are capable of specific performance." Hallingby v. Hallingby, No. 300913/93 (Sup.Ct. N.Y. Co. June 7, 1994), Judgment of Divorce at 3.

In November 1994, Hallingby married plaintiff and submitted forms to MetLife designating plaintiff as his new survivor beneficiary and revoking all previous beneficiary designations. Hallingby died in June 2005. Thereafter, despite requests by plaintiff that MetLife pay Hallingby's survivor benefits to his Estate, MetLife made the Annuity payments to Harrison. MetLife took the position that ERISA and the terms of the Annuities required it to make the payments to Harrison.

B. Proceedings in the State and District Courts

After unsuccessful requests to Harrison that she cease claiming the right to receive survivor benefits under Hallingby's Annuities and that she pay over to the Estate the benefits she had received, plaintiff, by order to show cause, commenced the present action in New York State Supreme Court in May 2006. She sought enforcement of Harrison's Settlement Agreement waiver of any interest in Hallingby's pension benefits, as well as disgorgement of the Annuity payments Harrison had received from MetLife since Hallingby's death. Plaintiff also sought an order bringing MetLife into the action and requiring it to make all further payments of survivor benefits to Hallingby's Estate.

After MetLife was made a defendant, it removed the action to federal court, contending that the issue of entitlement to the Annuity...

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101 practice notes
  • AXA Inv. Managers UK Ltd. v. Endeavor Capital Mgmt. LLC, No. 11 Civ. 3221(PGG)(MHD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 24, 2012
    ...the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ... citizens of different States.’ ” Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)). To satisfy the “citizens of different States” requirement, each plaintiff's citizenship m......
  • European Cmty. ex rel. Member States It Has Power to Represent v. RJR Nabisco, Inc., Docket No. 11–2475–cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 20, 2014
    ...statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Section 1332 requires complete diversity between opposing parties. See, e.g., Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009); Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806). If the European Community is not diverse from RJR, its cont......
  • In re Ltd., Nos. 11 MC 224 (LAP)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 19, 2011
    ...considered the amended BVI-law claims, which were added after Plaintiffs' notice of removal was filed. See, e.g., Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009) (“[T]he existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction over an action removed from state court to federal court is normal......
  • N.Y. Skyline, Inc. v. Empire State Bldg. Co. (In re N.Y. Skyline, Inc.), Case No. 09-10181 (SMB)
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 26, 2015
    ...to the ensuing adjudication if federal jurisdictional requirements are met at the time judgment is entered.'" Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir. 2009)(quoting Caterpiller Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 64 (1996)); accord Briarpatch Ltd., L.P. v. Phoenix Pictures, Inc., 373 F.3d 2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
102 cases
  • AXA Inv. Managers UK Ltd. v. Endeavor Capital Mgmt. LLC, No. 11 Civ. 3221(PGG)(MHD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 24, 2012
    ...the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ... citizens of different States.’ ” Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)). To satisfy the “citizens of different States” requirement, each plaintiff's citizenship m......
  • European Cmty. ex rel. Member States It Has Power to Represent v. RJR Nabisco, Inc., Docket No. 11–2475–cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 20, 2014
    ...statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Section 1332 requires complete diversity between opposing parties. See, e.g., Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009); Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806). If the European Community is not diverse from RJR, its cont......
  • In re Ltd., Nos. 11 MC 224 (LAP)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 19, 2011
    ...considered the amended BVI-law claims, which were added after Plaintiffs' notice of removal was filed. See, e.g., Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.2009) (“[T]he existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction over an action removed from state court to federal court is normal......
  • N.Y. Skyline, Inc. v. Empire State Bldg. Co. (In re N.Y. Skyline, Inc.), Case No. 09-10181 (SMB)
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 26, 2015
    ...to the ensuing adjudication if federal jurisdictional requirements are met at the time judgment is entered.'" Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir. 2009)(quoting Caterpiller Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 64 (1996)); accord Briarpatch Ltd., L.P. v. Phoenix Pictures, Inc., 373 F.3d 2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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