DRI member Steven C. Huret of Wilson Worley PC in Kingsport, successfully defended an appeal of the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant. The defendant was the brother of deceased federal postal worker and named as the sole beneficiary on the decedent’s life insurance policy. The decedent’s two children filed a lawsuit to enforce their status as third-party beneficiaries under a Tennessee divorce decree that required the life insurance policy name them as beneficiaries. The defense filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the life insurance policy was governed under the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Act (“FEGLIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 8705, et seq., and that the plaintiffs’ state divorce decree was preempted by federal law under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The trial court granted summary judgment, which the plaintiffs’ appealed to the Court of Appeals of Tennessee.
On appeal, in Hughes, et al. v. Hughes, Tenn. Ct. App. Appellate No. E2016-00561-COA-R3-CV, the brief and oral argument on behalf of the plaintiffs was handled by a former justice of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Despite this, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on the basis that state domestic relations law was preempted by FEGLIA and that the plaintiffs had not complied with the statutory carve-out that Congress provided to deal with conflict that arises sometimes between FEGLIA’s order of precedence for the payment of life insurance proceeds and state divorce decrees.
Attorneys Andrew (Andy) Wampler and Frank Johnstone, shareholders with the law firm Wilson Worley PC, have been elected as Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. Founded in 1952 by the American Bar Association, the ABF is widely recognized as the premier institute in the United States for social science research on law. Its mission is to serve the legal profession and the public through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law and its overall impact on society.
The Fellows is an honorary organization of attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars who have been nominated by Fellows in their state and elected by the Board of the American Bar Foundation. They have demonstrated outstanding achievements and dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession. Membership as a Fellow of the ABF is strictly limited to one percent of the lawyers admitted to practice in the United States and its territories.
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