Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Cochran
PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION enjoining the defendant from withdrawing, dissipating, transferring, or otherwise accessing the funds held in the TCA which represent the benefit payable as the result of the death of Michael Eugene Cochran, including interest; and, ordering Metlife to serve a file-marked copy of this preliminary injunction upon defendant. Signed by Judge Brian S. Miller on 7/11/2011. (kdr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK DIVISION
CASE NO. 4:11CV00521 BSM
ANGELA K. COCHRAN
A hearing was conducted this afternoon on a request for preliminary injunction
filed by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”). [Doc. No. 2]. MetLife
appeared through counsel, Jeffrey L. Spillyards. Defendant did not appear. Based on
MetLife’s verified complaint, motion, and brief, the following findings are made:
MetLife is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State
of New York, with its principal place of business in the State of New York.
Defendant Angela K. Cochran is an individual who resides at 600 South
Oak Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205.
MetLife is the insurer and Claims Administrator for The Railroad
Employees National Health and Welfare Plan (the “plan”), which provides benefits,
including life insurance benefits, to plan participants. The plan is governed by the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1973 (“ERISA”).
Mr. Michael Eugene Cochran (the “decedent”) was a participant in the plan
prior to his death on October 4, 2009. Following the decedent’s death, MetLife began
working to make payment of the $20,000 life insurance benefit payable as a result of the
death (the “benefit”) to the appropriate beneficiary.
A “Designation and Change of Beneficiary Form” dated May 23, 1976, the
most recent designation on file with the decedent’s employer, identified “Angela Kay
Cochran” as the decedent’s beneficiary.
MetLife conducted a search for “Angela Kay Cochran.” After receiving a
letter from MetLife, defendant Angela K. Cochran contacted MetLife by telephone and
stated that she did not know the insured. Later, however, defendant submitted to MetLife
a “Life Insurance Claim Form Claimant’s Statement,” which is the form used by
beneficiaries to request payment of benefits.
MetLife thereafter deposited the $20,000 benefit payable as a result of the
Decedent’s death into a Total Control Account (“TCA”) that is wholly owned and
controlled by defendant Angela K. Cochran.
MetLife has determined, however, that defendant is not the proper
beneficiary of the benefit. On defendant’s Claimant’s Statement, she identified her 1985
date of birth. The beneficiary designation was completed in 1976, nine years prior to
By letter dated April 13, 2011, MetLife explained to defendant that she was
not the correct beneficiary under the plan, and it requested that defendant return the
checkbook associated with the TCA. Defendant did not respond in any way.
Through a verified complaint, MetLife has explained that it will suffer
immediate and irreparable injury if defendant is not immediately restrained from
withdrawing, dissipating, transferring, or otherwise accessing the funds in the TCA
because MetLife will lose its right to a constructive trust over the benefit.
An ex parte temporary restraining order was previously entered prohibiting
defendant from withdrawing, dissipating, transferring, or otherwise accessing the funds in
the TCA. [Doc. No. 4].
Defendant is hereby preliminarily enjoined from withdrawing, dissipating,
transferring, or otherwise accessing the funds held in the TCA which represent the benefit
payable as the result of the death of Michael Eugene Cochran, including accrued interest.
This preliminary injunction will be in full force and effect until such time as
a final decision is rendered in this matter.
MetLife is hereby ordered to serve a file-marked copy of this preliminary
injunction forthwith upon defendant Angela K. Cochran.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of July 2011.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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