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PROVIDENT MUT. LIFE INS. CO. v. CAMERLIN

July 27, 1983

PROVIDENT MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PHILADELPHIA, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICIA W. CAMERLIN and JUNE WALTON and CINDY L. DISHONG, KATHLEEN P. HIBBERT, TERRY W. LEMLEY, PAMELA S. KOSTREJ, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 Introduction

 This interpleader action is presently before us on cross motions for summary judgment filed by an individual claimant, June Walton, and a group of adversary claimants, Patricia Camerlin, Cindy Dishong, Kathleen Hibbert, Terry Lemley and Pamela Kostrej. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335. The facts upon which our opinion rests are not in dispute.

 Facts

 Jack R. Walton worked for Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania ("Bell") from January 28, 1952 until his retirement on August 25, 1975. On March 22, 1951, Mr. Walton and the woman now known as Patricia Camerlin were married. They were divorced on June 8, 1959. In 1962, Mr. Walton married June Walton.

 While working for Bell, Mr. Walton enrolled in Bell's Basic Group Life Insurance Program, underwritten by the plaintiff, Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia ("Provident"), on April 1, 1957. At that time Mr. Walton designated his then wife, Patricia W. Walton (now Mrs. Camerlin), as the primary beneficiary of his insurance policy. On December 6, 1966, some four years after his marriage to June Walton, Mr. Walton enrolled in Bell's Supplementary Group Life Insurance Program and indicated that the beneficiary designation would be the same as that contained in his other policy.

 On April 19, 1980, Mr. Walton died. At the time of his death, the beneficiary named in his life insurance policy remained his first wife, Patricia W. Walton (now Mrs. Camerlin).

 Procedural History

 On August 11, 1980, June Walton (the second wife) brought suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division at No. G.D. 80-18823, against both Bell and Provident on theories sounding in contract (the insurance policy), tort (negligent misrepresentation by Bell that policy beneficiary designation had been changed), and equity (seeking reformation of the policy). On September 21, 1981, counsel for Provident received a letter from counsel for Mrs. Camerlin (the first wife) asserting a claim to the insurance proceeds as the beneficiary designated in the policy.

 Faced with these conflicting claims, on November 10, 1981 Bell and Provident filed this complaint to interplead the insurance proceeds and interest totaling $28,262.50. On November 19, 1981, we signed the proposed order attached to the plaintiffs' complaint, enjoining the prosecution of other suits pertaining to the Walton insurance proceeds and discharging Bell and Provident from further liability on those proceeds.

 On February 19, 1982, after consideration of the claimant Walton's Motion to Vacate Order, we filed a Memorandum Opinion and Order vacating the order of November 19, 1981 as being overly broad, dismissed Bell for lack of jurisdiction, and limited the interpleader action strictly to a determination of the proper recipient of the proceeds of Mr. Walton's contract of insurance with Provident. Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia v. Camerlin, 534 F. Supp. 318 (W.D. Pa. 1982).

 On November 17, 1982, Mrs. Camerlin moved for summary judgment, claiming a right to the proceeds as the named beneficiary of the insurance policy. In a bench opinion issued on December 21, 1982, we ruled that 20 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1 (Purdon Supp. 1983) applied to life insurance beneficiary designations and, consequently, rendered ineffective the designation of Patricia Camerlin as a beneficiary of Jack Walton's insurance policy. 20 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1 provides:

 
If the conveyor is divorced from the bonds of matrimony after making a conveyance, all provisions in the conveyance which were revocable by him at the time of his death and which were to take effect at or after his death in favor of or relating to his spouse so divorced shall thereby become ineffective for all purposes.

 On March 15, 1983, Mrs. Walton filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming the insurance proceeds as the sole ...


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