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MEEHAN v. USPS

May 1, 1992

JAMES P. MEEHAN, VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL J. MEEHAN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEONARD D. WEXLER

 WEXLER, District Judge

 James Meehan ("plaintiff"), Administrator of the estate of Michael J. Meehan ("Meehan"), brings this action under the Federal Group Life Insurance Act ("FEGLI"), 5 U.S.C. ยง 8501 et seq., against the United States Postal Service, the United States of America and the United States Office of Personnel Management. *fn1" Plaintiff alleges that his son, Meehan, was wrongfully denied free life insurance from the United States Postal Service. Now before the Court are motions by both plaintiff and defendants for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56(a) and 56(b). For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted and plaintiff's motion is denied.

 I. BACKGROUND

 The following material facts are not disputed by the parties. Meehan was employed by the United States Postal Service at its Mid-Island General Mail Facility, Hicksville, New York, from December 5, 1987 until the time of his death, March 12, 1989. On December 7, 1987, Meehan attended an orientation course where he was informed that Postal employees automatically receive free basic life insurance unless they sign a waiver regarding such coverage. He completed his orientation on December 8, 1987, with a grade of "satisfactory."

 At the orientation course, each attendee received a Standard Form 2817 ("SF 2817") on which he was to indicate either the type of life insurance coverage he wanted or indicate his waiver of life insurance benefits. However, when Meehan filled out his SF 2817, he simultaneously elected and waived basic life insurance. As a result, the SF 2817 could not be processed and on or about January 13, 1988, it was returned to him along with a blank SF 2817 and a memorandum explaining the problem and requesting that he clarify his choice on the new form.

 On February 2, 1988, the Postal Service received from Meehan a properly completed SF 2817 in which he waived all life insurance coverage. *fn2" Meehan also returned the January 13, 1988 memorandum and printed on the bottom: "NO LIFE INSURANCE AT THIS TIME[.] THANK YOU, MICHAEL MEEHAN."

 The Postal Service thereupon processed Meehan's waiver of all life insurance coverage, and sent him, on or about March 3, 1988, a Notification of Personnel Action which confirmed his waiver. In response to this notification, Meehan did nothing: he neither contacted the Postal Service to vacate his waiver, nor did he, or any representative on his behalf, ever file a grievance regarding such waiver. *fn3"

 After Meehan's death, plaintiff filed a claim for death benefits. On or about April 28, 1989, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance denied the claim.

 On January 29, 1990, plaintiff commenced this action for monies due under the life insurance policy, claiming that Meehan never properly waived his rights to free life insurance under sections 535.23-.24 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual ("ELRM"), which concern the issuance of "supplementary waiver." *fn4"

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

 When parties present several grounds for dismissal, the Court must first examine grounds that allege a lack of jurisdiction. It is well-established that both the United States and its agencies are immune from suit absent an express waiver by Congress of their sovereign immunity. Block v. North Dakota, ex. rel. Board of University and School Lands, 461 U.S. 273, 280, 75 L. Ed. 2d 840, 103 S. Ct. 1811 (1983); United States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538, 63 L. Ed. 2d 607, 100 S. Ct. 1349 ...


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