Two women claiming to be spouses of man file claim, pension fund seeks court's help

By Jenie Mallari-Torres | Aug 18, 2016

LOS ANGELES – The trustees of a pension fund have petitioned the court to determine the beneficiaries of a policy.

Trustees of the UAW Labor Management Group Pension Fund filed a complaint for interpleader on Aug. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Marissa L. Carter and Bernadette C. Smith.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff's plan participant, Cornelius Chandler Smith, died on Dec. 18, 2015, and that the survivor annuity should be paid to the decedent's surviving spouse. However, the suit states that both of the defendants have filed claims for the benefits. Bernadette C. Smith alleges that she married Smith in 1966 and that their marriage was never legally terminated. The suit states Smith married Marissa L. Carter in 2001 and listed Carter as his beneficiary. The plaintiff states it had no knowledge of Smith's married to Bernadette C. Smith until she submitted her claim for benefits.

The plaintiff seeks judgment for court to order defendants to litigate their respective claims, for the court to determine who is entitled to the decedent's account, dismiss the plaintiff from these proceedings and discharge plaintiff from all liabilities on account of these claims except to the person it shall adjudge, for attorneys' fees and further relief as the court may deem proper. It is represented by Robert Scot Clifford and Michael Y. Jung of Laquer Urban Clifford & Hodge LLP in Pasadena.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Case number 2:16-cv-05711

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