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UNITED STATES v. PAHMER

January 13, 1956

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Eve B. PAHMER and Eva Pahmer, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAWSON

These cross-motions for summary judgment raise the issue as to whether a suicide note left by a person insured under the National Service Life Insurance Act, 38 U.S.C.A. 802(g) is sufficient to constitute a change of beneficiary under the policy.

The action is one of interpleader brought by the government to determine who is entitled to be considered as the beneficiary of the policy. The defendants are, respectively, Eve B. Pahmer, the widow, and Eva Pahmer, the mother, of Dr. Marcel Pahmer, the insured. Both defendants have moved for summary judgment. As there are no facts in dispute, and all parties so concede, the matter is one which properly may be determined on this motion, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A.

 The Facts

 The following facts appear to exist without substantial controversy:

 1. Marcel Pahmer, who had been in the military service, became insured under a policy of National Life Insurance, effective November 1, 1943, in the principal amount of $ 10,000.

 2. The insured named his wife Eve B. Pahmer as beneficiary, and his minor son John as contingent beneficiary.

 3. Several years prior to his death, the insured and his wife had become estranged and had separated. In 1950, the insured moved to Florida and there commenced a divorce proceeding against his wife. After hearings, a Referee found adversely to the insured. The Referee's findings were the subject of motions pending at the time of insured's decease.

 4. During the night of February 10, 1951, the insured took his life by poison in his mother's apartment in New York City.

 5. Found with the insured's body was a sealed envelope with the inscription: 'My last will and testament -- to be opened only by my mother.' Inside the envelope was a four-page handwritten statement which read, in part, as follows:

 'This is my last will

 'Feb. 10, 1951

 'I, undersigned, Marcel Pahmer, sound of body and mind, hereby declare the following to be my last will: and irrevocably request it be followed in its entirety:

 '1. I leave to my mother, Eva Pahmer, 28 E. 95th Str, N.Y.C. and bequeath upon her the totality of my belongings for her to dispose at her will.

 '2. In case my Life Insurance is payed off after my death, the totality of it is to go to my mother, above named, for her to own and dispose of at ...


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