United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JAMES E. GUINN, Plaintiff,
GENERAL MOTORS LLC, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon the Motion (ECF DKT #31)
of Plaintiff, James E. Guinn, to Supplement the
Administrative Record and for Judgment on the Administrative
Record. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is
Tolliver f/k/a Julia Adams was a participant in the General
Motors (“GM”) Life and Disability Benefits
Program for Hourly Employees (“Plan”), which is
an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). The
Plan provided Julia with Basic Life Insurance and a Death
Benefit of $28, 133.00 through Defendant Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company (“MetLife”).
March 26, 2002, Julia executed a Beneficiary Designation Form
naming her then spouse, Mark J. Tolliver (now known as Rashad
A. Saleem), as the beneficiary of her Basic Life Insurance.
about March 28, 2008, a Final Judgment of Divorce was entered
dissolving Julia's marriage.
October 17, 2012, Julia and her nephew, James E. Guinn
(Plaintiff), went to the UAW office across from GM's
Metal Fabrication Division where Julia worked before she
retired. Julia completed a new Beneficiary Designation Form.
She designated Plaintiff as her primary beneficiary and
indicated that his allotted share would be 100%. In the lower
portion of the form, meant for identifying a Trust, Julia
wrote her name as Trustee and her nephew signed his name in
the space provided for listing the name of the Trust
Agreement. Julia signed and dated the form
“10-17-12.” On October 23, 2012, MetLife sent
Julia a letter indicating that it was “unable to
process [her] request because the form contains incomplete or
missing information.” (ECF DKT #29-1 at 9). MetLife
provided a blank Beneficiary Designation Form for her to
complete, sign and date, but warned: “Please do not use
the Trust area unless you are making that designation.”
Id. Further: “After the acceptable form has
been made part of your permanent file, a letter of
confirmation will be mailed to your address of record.”
27, 2016, Julia died without ever submitting a new
Beneficiary Designation Form.
made a claim for the life insurance benefits; but on August
10, 2016, MetLife denied his claim. MetLife explained that
the October 17, 2012 Beneficiary Designation was never
accepted and therefore, was invalid. Id. at 14.
Despite sending correspondence to the decedent on October 23,
2012, MetLife never received an updated designation.
Id. “According to [MetLife's] records, the
latest valid beneficiary designation on file that was
completed by the decedent on March 26th 2002, does not name
you as the beneficiary of the Plan benefits.”
pursued an appeal; but MetLife affirmed the denial of
benefits on December 15, 2016. Id. at 73-75.
January 31, 2017, Plaintiff brought this action for recovery
of life insurance benefits pursuant to ERISA. Plaintiff's
Second Amended Complaint (ECF DKT #14), naming GM, GM Life
and Disability Benefits Program for Hourly Employees, MetLife
and Rashad A. Saleem, was filed on July 5, 2017. In Count II,
Plaintiff alleges in relevant part:
35. James was Julia's intended beneficiary with regard to
her Basic Life insurance benefits payable upon her death.
36. In good conscience, the proceeds of Julia's Basic
Life insurance benefits belong to James.
37. Rashad A. Saleem would be unjustly enriched if he
received Julia's Basic Life insurance benefits that