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BRECKLINE v. METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO. (03/13/62)

March 13, 1962

BRECKLINE
v.
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO., APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 500 and 502, Jan. T., 1961, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, August T., 1960, No. 29, in case of Mary E. Breckline v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and Mercedes E. Steel. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Harris C. Arnold, Jr., with him Harris C. Arnold, and Arnold, Bricker, Beyer & Barnes, for interpleaded claimant, appellant.

John Milton Ranck, with him Appel, Ranck, Levy & Appel, for defendant, appellant.

Wilson Bucher, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 406 Pa. Page 574]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

These appeals are from a final judgment entered on the pleadings in an assumpsit-interpleader action.

[ 406 Pa. Page 575]

The plaintiff, Mary E. Breckline, sued the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to recover the proceeds due on a group life insurance policy issued to the United States Civil Service Commission under the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Act of August 17, 1954, c. 752, § 2, 68 Stat. 736, 5 U.S.C.A. § 2091 et seq. The policy insured the life of one William E. Steel, a civil service employee of the federal government, since deceased. The insurance company interpleaded the insured's widow, Mercedes E. Steel, and his brother, Robert W. Steel, as adverse claimants, but did not disclaim interest in the litigation. The brother, Robert W. Steele, filed no pleadings and a bar order was entered against him. The issue, therefore, resolved into a determination of the validity of the claims of the widow and the plaintiff.

The pleadings consisted of: 1. (a) Plaintiff's complaint, (b) Defendant's answer, and (c) Plaintiff's reply to defendant's new matter; and 2. (a) Mercedes E. Steel's statement of claim as interpleaded claimant (Pa. R.C.P. 2309), and (b) Plaintiff's answer to additional matter in that statement of claim.

When the pleadings were closed, the widow moved for judgment. The court below, not only denied her motion, but entered judgment for the full amount due in favor of the plaintiff. The widow and the insurance company appealed.

Section 4 of the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Act prescribes several categories of persons to whom, in the order named, insurance issued thereunder shall be paid. These specific terms are also written into the policy. The first is the beneficiary or beneficiaries whom the insured has designated "by a writing received in the employing ...


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