liability as a result of the Insured's death beyond payment of the proceeds; and (4) a declaration that after payment of the proceeds to Jeanne, Kathleen and Michael, MetLife is discharged of any and all liability resulting from the Insured's death.
While the legitimacy of Joseph's power of attorney is disputed by the plaintiff and Joseph's nephews and nieces, MetLife assumes the validity of Joseph's appointment as attorney-in-fact under the power of attorney, for the purpose of its summary judgment motion.
MetLife moves for summary judgment in its favor on the complaint so that it may distribute the proceeds of the Insured's life insurance policy as expeditiously as possible. It argues that even if the power of attorney executed in favor of Joseph is valid, the Designation of Beneficiary Form which he subsequently filed, naming himself as beneficiary of the MetLife policy, is unenforceable as a matter of law. Specifically, MetLife maintains that the FEGLIA provides that only the employee himself may designate the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy under the Act, and that designations by third parties on behalf of the insured are void. Moreover, to the extent that the second Beneficiary Form might have been otherwise enforceable under New York law because it does not directly contradict any explicit provision of the FEGLIA, MetLife contends that such enforcement is preempted by the FEGLIA.
MetLife's motion is opposed only by Joseph Sullivan. He contends that MetLife's interpretation of the provisions of the FEGLIA is overbroad. Joseph argues that the FEGLIA does not expressly prohibit a change of beneficiary by a third party appointed pursuant to a power of attorney. Therefore, according to Joseph, the federal statute has no application here. Moreover, he states that the change in beneficiaries is consistent with New York General Obligations Law § 5-1502F. Accordingly, Joseph argues that his designation of himself as beneficiary of his brother's life insurance policy is valid.
In addition to responding to MetLife's motion, Joseph Sullivan has also filed a cross motion for summary judgment in his favor, arguing that the July 15, 1993 Designation of Beneficiary Form is enforceable because he was acting pursuant to a valid power of attorney. Joseph also moves: (1) to strike three of MetLife's supporting affidavits on the ground that they were not properly verified; (2) to strike portions of the Kathleen's affidavit in that the allegations contained therein did not constitute "fact"; and (3) to strike portions of the Answer filed by the other defendants for the alleged failure to serve in a timely manner.
1. The Standard For Summary Judgment
A court may grant summary judgment "only if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, presents no genuine issue of material fact," Cable Science Corp. v. Rochdale Village, Inc., 920 F.2d 147, 151 (2d Cir. 1990), and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (summary judgment standard). The Court must, however, resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Twin Laboratories, Inc. v. Weider Health & Fitness, 900 F.2d 566, 568 (2d Cir. 1990); Liscio v. Warren, 901 F.2d 274, 276 (2d Cir. 1990); Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 932, 94 L. Ed. 2d 762, 107 S. Ct. 1570 (1987).
According to the Second Circuit "summary judgment is a tool to winnow out from the trial calendar those cases whose facts predestine them to result in a directed verdict." United National Ins. Co. v. The Tunnel, Inc., 988 F.2d 351, 355 (2d Cir. 1993). Once a party moves for summary judgment, in order to avoid the granting of the motion, the non-movant must come forward with specific facts showing that a genuine issue for trial exists. See Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1990) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)); see also National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Turtur, 892 F.2d 199, 203 (2d Cir. 1989). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248; see Converse v. General Motors Corp., 893 F.2d 513, 514 (2d Cir. 1990).
However, mere conclusory allegations, speculation or conjecture will not avail a party resisting summary judgment. See Western World, 922 F.2d at 121. If there is evidence in the record as to any material fact from which an inference could be drawn in favor of the non-movant, summary judgment is unavailable. See United National, 988 F.2d at 354-55; Rattner v. Netburn, 930 F.2d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 1991). Finally, the Court is charged with the function of "issue finding", not "issue resolution". Eye Assocs., P.C. v. Incomrx Sys. Ltd. Partnership, 912 F.2d 23, 27 (2d Cir. 1990).
2. Designation of Beneficiaries under the FEGLIA
Designation of beneficiaries under the FEGLIA is governed by 5 U.S.C. § 8705(a) which provides in relevant part that:
The amount of group life insurance . . . in force on an employee at the date of his death shall be paid, on the establishment of a valid claim, to the person or persons surviving at the date of his death, in the following order of precedence: