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Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co. v. Adviento

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 10, 2018

HARTFORD LIFE AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
MELCHOR ADVIENTO; JOEMELYN ADVIENTO; JUDY ADVIENTO; JAYMELYN ADVIENTO, Defendants.

          ORDER ON INTERPLEADER

          Helen Gillmor United States district Judge.

         Plaintiff Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company issued (“Plaintiff Hartford” or “Hartford”) a group life insurance policy with an effective date of July 1, 2004. Decedent Erlinda Adviento was insured under the Policy for accidental death.

         On October 28, 2007, Decedent Erlinda Adviento was killed by her husband, Defendant Melchor Adviento.

         On July 17, 2009, Defendant Melchor Adviento was convicted of second-degree murder in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes § 707-701.5.

         On February 10, 2014, the Hawaii Supreme Court vacated the Judgment and remanded the case for a new trial. State v. Adviento, 319 P.3d 1131 (Haw. 2014).

         On remand from the decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Defendant Melchor Adviento pled guilty on December 1, 2015, to manslaughter in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes § 707-702(2).

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento did not designate a beneficiary under the Policy. The Policy provided that when no beneficiary is named, the proceeds would be payable first to the spouse of the insured, and if not to the spouse, to the surviving children.

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento's children are Defendants Joemelyn Adviento, Judy Adviento, and Jaymelyn Adviento.

         Plaintiff Hartford claims that it does not know and cannot determine the person or persons legally entitled to the proceeds from the Policy. Plaintiff Hartford claims that it cannot determine if Defendant Melchor Adviento is entitled to the proceeds based on Hawaii Revised Statute § 560:2-803, which provides that someone who commits a felonious and intentional killing of the decedent may not receive the decedent's life insurance proceeds.

         Plaintiff Hartford asserts that Defendant Melchor Adviento has refused to disclaim any entitlement to the Policy's benefits. Defendant Melchor Adviento sent Plaintiff Hartford a letter stating that he wants the ability to designate the monetary benefits as he sees fit by giving the entire amount to his daughter.

         Plaintiff Hartford requests that the Court make a determination as to the rightful beneficiaries to the Policy.

         Plaintiff Hartford states that it has no interest in the benefits from the Policy. Plaintiff Hartford requests that the Policy benefits be deposited with the Court pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 for Interpleader.

         Plaintiff Hartford requests dismissal from the case and attorneys' fees and costs.

         Plaintiff Hartford's Complaint for Interpleader is GRANTED, IN PART, and DENIED, IN PART.

         The Court GRANTS Plaintiff Hartford's request that the Court make a determination as to the rightful beneficiaries to the Policy.

         The Court FINDS that Plaintiff Hartford has no interest in the benefits of the Policy.

         Plaintiff Hartford is DIRECTED to deposit the proceeds into the Registry of the Court from the life insurance policy for Decedent Erlinda Adviento. The proceeds total $108, 000.00.

         Once the proceeds are deposited with the Court, Plaintiff Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company is released from liability arising from the distribution of the $108, 000.00 in life insurance policy proceeds for Decedent Erlinda Adviento.

         Following its deposit of the proceeds with the Registry of the Court, Plaintiff Hartford is DISMISSED.

         Defendants Melchor Adviento, Joemelyn Adviento, Judy Adviento, and Jaymelyn Adviento are precluded from initiating any actions against Plaintiff Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company relating to the Policy at issue.

         Plaintiff Hartford's request for attorneys' fees and costs is DENIED.

         The Court FINDS that Defendant Melchor Adviento is not a beneficiary to the Policy. Defendant Melchor Adviento is precluded from receiving benefits to Decedent Erlinda Adviento's life insurance policy pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes § 560:2-803.

         The Court FINDS that Defendants Joemelyn Adviento, Judy Adviento, and Jaymelyn Adviento are the rightful beneficiaries to the Policy's proceeds.

         Defendants Joemelyn Adviento, Judy Adviento, and Jaymelyn Adviento are entitled to equal parts of the life insurance policy proceeds for Decedent Erlinda Adviento.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 19, 2016, Plaintiff Hartford filed its Complaint. (ECF No. 1).

         On February 22, 2017, Plaintiff Hartford filed a REQUEST TO CLERK FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT as to Defendants Joemelyn, Judy, and Jaymelyn Adviento. (ECF Nos. 17, 18, 19).

         On the same date, the Clerk filed ENTRY OF DEFAULT as to Defendants Joemelyn, Judy, and Jaymelyn Adviento. (ECF Nos. 20, 21, 22).

         On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff Hartford filed a MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT. (ECF No. 26).

         On June 14, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT. (ECF No. 29).

         On July 14, 2017, the District Court denied the FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION and requested further briefing from Plaintiff Hartford. (ECF No. 30).

         On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff Hartford filed a MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT. (ECF No. 31).

         The Court elects to decide the matter without a hearing pursuant to District of Hawaii Local Rule 7.2(d).

         BACKGROUND

         Group Life Insurance Policy

         Plaintiff Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company issued a group life insurance policy Number ADD10900 (“Policy”) effective July 1, 2004, to the Financial Services Association as the policyholder. (Policy, attached as Ex. A to the Complaint, ECF No. 1-1). Bank of Hawaii was a participatory financial organization of the Financial Services Association.

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento was a certificate holder of the Financial Services Association's Policy. (Complaint at ¶ 8, ECF No. 1).

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento was insured in the amount of $108, 000 in the event of accidental death. (Id.; Policy, Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1).

         Erlinda Adviento was married to Defendant Melchor Adviento. They had three children together: an elder son, Defendant Joemelyn Adviento; a daughter, Defendant Judy Adviento; and a younger son, Defendant Jaymelyn Adviento. The three children have reached the age of majority.

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento Was Killed By Her Husband, Defendant Melchor Adviento

         On October 28, 2007, Erlinda Adviento was killed by her husband, Defendant Melchor Adviento. State v. Adviento, 319 P.3d 1131, 1140-41 (Haw. 2014).

         On November 6, 2007, Defendant Melchor Adviento was indicted upon a charge of murder in the second degree in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes §§ 707-701.5, 706-656. Id. at 1135.

         On July 6, 2009, a jury trial began in the Circuit Court for the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. Id. At the trial, Defendant Melchor Adviento testified that in the month prior to her death, Decedent Erlinda Adviento informed him that she wanted a divorce. Id. at 1137. Defendant Melchor Adviento testified that on October 28, 2007, he arrived home from work around noon. At around 2:30 p.m., a neighbor heard a female scream. Id. at 1138. The neighbor called 911 and when police arrived, Defendant Melchor Adviento opened the door “covered in blood.” When asked what happened he responded, “I killed my wife.” Id. at 1138-39.

         Decedent Erlinda Adviento was stabbed sixteen times with a serrated bread knife. Id. at 1139. Defendant Melchor Adviento had defensive wounds and lacerations. (Id.) Defendant Melchor Adviento testified that the Decedent stabbed him as well and that he struggled with her and stabbed her multiple times. Id. at 1140.

         On July 17, 2009, the jury reached an unanimous verdict. They found Defendant Melchor Adviento guilty as charged, of murder in the second degree, in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 707-701.5, 706-656. Id. at 1142. The Circuit Court entered Judgment on October 21, 2009. Defendant Melchor Adviento was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after a minimum of ten years imprisonment. Id.

         Defendant Melchor Adviento Appealed His Conviction And The Hawaii Supreme Court Vacated The Judgment And Remanded The Case For A New Trial

         Defendant Melchor Adviento appealed the Judgment to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. On July 10, 2012, the Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the jury verdict and the Circuit Court's sentence. State v. Adviento, ...


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