HALLMAN et al v. HALLMAN et al
ORDER: Because there are no federal issues left to decide, it is hereby ORDERED that this action be REMANDED to the Superior Court of Houston County for all further proceedings related to the Plaintiffs' state law claims. Because the ultimate dispute over the final disposition of the benefits is not yet resolved, the GMLI Plan funds and any associated interest that has accrued while held in the registry of this Court shall be transferred to the registry of the Houston County Superior Court until the Plaintiffs' claims are fully adjudicated. Ordered by Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell on 8/6/2013. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CHARLENE H. HALLMAN, as next
friend of H.H., a minor,1 JESI
HALLMAN, AMANDA E. WALTERS,
and ROBERT W. HALLMAN,
LINDA C. HALLMAN and PRINCIPAL
LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY,2
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:12-CV-4 (MTT)
Before the Court is Defendant Linda Hallman’s affidavit (Doc. 28), which the
Court has construed as a motion to declare her the ERISA beneficiary of insurance
proceeds payable due to the death of Robert F. Hallman. The motion is GRANTED.
As outlined in this Court’s previous Orders, this dispute involves funds issued by
former Defendant Principal Life under Policy No. 1005562: the Group Voluntary Term
Life Insurance Plan (“GVTL Plan”)3 and the Group Member Life Insurance Plan (“GMLI
Plan”). A divorce agreement between Robert Hallman and his previous wife, Charlene
Hallman, purportedly obligated Robert Hallman to list the Plaintiffs, his four children, as
beneficiaries of his life insurance policies. However, sometime after Robert Hallman
The Plaintiff “H.H.” is no longer a minor.
Principal Life has been dismissed from this action. (Doc. 18).
The GVTL Plan funds were fully disposed of by a previous Order of this Court. (Doc. 18).
married Defendant Linda Hallman and before he died, the listed GMLI Plan beneficiary
was changed from his children to Linda Hallman.
The lawsuit was originally filed in Houston County Superior Court and asserted
only state law claims, but Principal Life removed the case to this Court because the
insurance plans are employee welfare benefits governed by the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. (Doc. 1). After
depositing the money into the Court registry, Principal Life was dismissed. (Doc. 18).
Further, the Court ordered the remaining portion of the GVTL Plan benefits be paid to
Plaintiffs Jesi Hallman and H.H., who were listed beneficiaries. This left only the GMLI
Plan funds to be disposed of. (Doc. 18). Linda Hallman is the only listed beneficiary to
the GMLI Plan.
After asking the parties to address various jurisdictional issues related to this case,
the Court now finds, and the Plaintiffs concede (Doc. 30), that Linda Hallman is the
named beneficiary pursuant to ERISA. Accordingly, federal law entitles her to receive the
GMLI Plan funds as outlined in the plan documents. However, there remain questions
under Georgia law as to whether Linda Hallman may retain these funds once they are
paid or whether she must surrender the money to the Plaintiffs. The Court expresses no
opinion on these state law issues. They are decisions for a Georgia court to make.
Therefore, because there are no federal issues left to decide, it is hereby
ORDERED that this action be REMANDED to the Superior Court of Houston County for
all further proceedings related to the Plaintiffs’ state law claims. Because the ultimate
dispute over the final disposition of the benefits is not yet resolved, the GMLI Plan funds
and any associated interest that has accrued while held in the registry of this Court shall
be transferred to the registry of the Houston County Superior Court until the Plaintiffs’
claims are fully adjudicated.
SO ORDERED, this 6th day of August, 2013.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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