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SPINNER v. FULTON

April 3, 1991

LLOYD SPINNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOLORES A. FULTON AND BERNARD B. FULTON, A/K/A ROBERT FULTON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rambo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

The captioned action was tried to the court in a nonjury proceeding on March 18, 1991. The plaintiff, Lloyd E. Spinner (Spinner), and defendants Dolores A. and Bernard B. Fulton (the Fultons) are, respectively, the surviving husband and parents of Ylynne M. Fulton ("decedent" or Ylynne Fulton), who died in Philadelphia on April 5, 1988. Spinner was married to but separated from decedent at the time of her death. For the past several years, Spinner and the Fultons have been involved in a dispute over the proper distribution of the estate and insurance proceeds on the life of the decedent. Only the dispute over the insurance proceeds is before this court. The parties have raised certain issues that make a brief discussion of the state court action necessary.

The estate matter was decided in favor of the Fultons by an administrative law judge of the Philadelphia Orphans' Court, who ruled that defendant had forfeited his intestate share of decedent's estate as a result of his consent to their separation. That decision was overturned by an en banc panel of the Philadelphia Orphans' Court, which ruled that the administrative law judge erred and abused his discretion in finding that Spinner had consented to the separation.*fn1 That decision is now before the Pennsylvania Superior Court on appeal.

In the course of the life insurance dispute before this court, the parties have argued whether and to what extent this court must be bound by the findings of fact in the related state action. In light of the facts that the administrative law judge made certain findings of fact, the court en banc made certain contrary findings of fact, the case is now on appeal before the Superior Court, and the issues before this court are distinct from those before the state court, this court will not adopt any of the findings of fact from the state court decision. Accordingly, the court makes its own findings of fact.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Plaintiff Lloyd Spinner is an adult individual who currently resides in Woodstock, Virginia.

2. Defendant Dolores A. Fulton is an adult individual who currently resides in Harrisburg, Pa.

3. Defendant Bernard B. Fulton is an adult individual who currently resides in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

4. Ylynne M. Fulton was the daughter of Dolores A. and Bernard B. Fulton.

5. Spinner married Ylynne M. Fulton on or about August 2, 1984.

6. After their marriage, Ylynne Fulton and Spinner lived in an apartment together in Virginia for several months at most.

7. Ylynne Fulton withdrew from the marital apartment in Virginia for unexplained reasons in either September or November 1984, after which time Spinner never saw Ylynne Fulton again.

8. After Ylynne Fulton withdrew from the marital apartment, she and Spinner remained separated but legally married until Ylynne Fulton's death on April 5, 1988.

9. When Ylynne Fulton left the marital apartment in Virginia, she resided for a time in Connecticut, then in Atlantic City, New Jersey with her father, and finally, at the time ...


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