VOYA RETIREMENT INSURANCE AND ANNUITY COMPANY v. MARY BETH JOHNSON ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on Oct 30, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

David M. Rich, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Beth Johnson.

Attorneys 2:

Chadwick W. Stanfill, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of Stephen Vincent Leary.

Lauren Paxton Roberts and J. Anne Tipps, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company.

Judge(s): MCBRAYER

A plan administrator filed an interpleader action asking the court to determine the proper beneficiary of death benefits in a retirement plan. After the plan participant died, both his former wife and his estate demanded payment from the plan administrator. Although the former wife was listed as the designated beneficiary in the plan, the estate claimed that the beneficiary designation had been revoked in the couple’s marital dissolution agreement. The former wife filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and a counterclaim alleging breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the administration of the plan. The trial court denied the former wife’s motion, awarded the disputed proceeds to the estate, and dismissed the counterclaim. The former wife appealed. Upon review, we conclude that the marital dissolution agreement did not revoke the previous beneficiary designation. We also conclude that the trial court erred in dismissing the counterclaim. Thus, we reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.