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PHL Variable Life Insurance Co. v. Broderick

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 16, 2017

PHL VARIABLE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY Interpleader Plaintiff
v.
EDMUND T. BRODERICK, Individually and as Trustee of the Lowell S. Broderick Revocable Trust, et al. Interpleader Defendants

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTIONS

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge

         The Court has before it Interpleader Defendant Edmund T. Broderick's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 54], the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by John Pompey [ECF No. 56], and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court has held a hearing and had the benefit of the arguments of counsel.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Summary of Pertinent Events

         In 2005, Lowell Broderick (“Broderick”) and John Pompey (“Pompey”) formed Versa Tile Marble, LLC. (“the Company”).

         It is undisputed that, in 2005, PHL Variable Life Insurance Company (“PHL”) issued two $1, 000, 000 life insurance policies - one on the life of Broderick (“the Broderick Policy”) with Pompey as beneficiary and the other on the life of Pompey (“the Pompey Policy) with Broderick as the beneficiary.[1] It is also undisputed that the Company paid the premiums on both policies through 2009.

         In 2009, Broderick and Pompey ended their business relationship. On June 30, 2009, they entered into a Membership Interest Redemption Agreement (“MIRA”) whereby Pompey purchased Broderick's membership in the Company for some $80, 000 and proceeded to operate the business. The MIRA said nothing about the life insurance policies.

         On or about January 16, 2009, Broderick signed a document [ECF No. 54-10] that PHL and Broderick treated as changing the beneficiary on the Broderick Policy from Pompey to the Lowell S. Broderick Revocable Trust (“the Trust”).[2] Broderick thereafter paid the premiums on the Broderick policy until he died on March 3, 2015.

         After Broderick's death, both Pompey and the Trust claimed entitlement to the Broderick Policy death benefits. The critical issue is whether, in January 2009, Broderick effectively changed the Broderick policy beneficiary from Pompey to the Trust.

         B. PROCEDURAL POSTURE

         PHL commenced this action by filing an Interpleader Complaint [ECF No. 1] against Pompey and Edmund T. Broderick (“Edmund”) individually and as Trustee of the Trust.

         Pompey filed an Answer [ECF No. 18] asserting that he was entitled to the benefits of the Broderick policy.[3]

         Edmund filed an Answer [ECF No. 22], asserting that the Trust was entitled to the benefits of the Broderick policy.[4]

         By agreement of all parties, the Court issued a procedural Order [ECF No. 44] providing that the Court would first proceed to determine whether Pompey or the Trust is entitled to the benefits of the Broderick policy. After that determination is made, the case shall proceed with regard to such of the other claims as may remain pending.

         Accordingly, the Court must now proceed to determine whether Pompey or the Trust is entitled to the proceeds of the Broderick policy.

         By the instant cross motions both Pompey and the Trust seek summary judgment establishing their right to the death benefits of the Broderick Policy.

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         A motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings and supporting documents “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The well-established principles pertinent to such motions can be distilled to a simple statement.

         The Court may look at the evidence presented in regard to the motion for summary judgment through the non-movant's rose colored glasses, but must view it realistically. After so doing, the essential question is whether a reasonable fact finder could return a verdict for the non-movant or whether the movant would, at trial, be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. E.g., Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, ...


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