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Life Insurance Co. of North America v. Ortiz
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
535 F.3d 990 (2008)
Luis Gerardo Ortiz (Gerry) was a police officer. Gerry married Gloria Ortiz (defendant) and designated Gloria as the sole beneficiary on his life-insurance policy with Life Insurance Company of North America (plaintiff). Gerry and Gloria had two children (defendants). Gerry and Gloria got divorced. The marital settlement agreement included a notice stating that the divorce did not “automatically cancel the rights of a spouse as beneficiary on the other spouse’s life-insurance policy.” In fact, after the agreement was signed, Gerry’s attorney reminded him to change the beneficiary on the life-insurance policy. In May 2005, Gerry got remarried, to Graciela Ortiz (defendant). In June 2005, Gerry was killed in the line of duty. Gloria was still the named beneficiary on Gerry’s life-insurance policy. Life Insurance Co. deposited Gerry’s benefits, totaling over $500,000, with the court and filed an interpleader action to determine the rightful beneficiary. Graciela claimed that Gerry’s divorce with Gloria terminated Gloria’s interest in the life-insurance policy. The district court agreed, finding that Gerry did not intend that Gloria would continue to be the beneficiary. The court awarded the money from the life-insurance policy to Gerry’s estate, to pass via intestate succession to Graciela and Gerry’s two children. Gloria appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Dissent (Kozinski, C.J.)
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