United States District Court, D. Nevada
DISH NETWORK CORPORATION, as Plan Administrator and on behalf of DISH NETWORK CORPORATION 401(K PLAN, Plaintiff in Interpleader,
DEBORAH POMPA and ROY LOHRENGEL, Defendants in Interpleader.
J. DAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Cross-claimant Deborah Pompa's Motion
for Summary Judgment (#30). Cross-Defendant/Counter-claimant
Roy Lohrengel (“Roy”) filed a response in
opposition (#33) to which Pompa replied (#34).
Larry Lohrengel (“Lohrengel”), was employed by
Dish Network and participated in the Dish Network 401(K) Plan
(“the Plan”). The Plan gave Lohrengel the right
to designate a beneficiary to receive the benefits payable
upon his death by filing a written notice of change of
beneficiary with the retirement plan administrator.
time of Lohrengel's illness and death, Movant Pompa, his
long-time significant other, was residing with Lohrengel. On
June 26, 2012, Pompa was designated as the one-hundred (100)
percent (%) beneficiary of Lohrengel's retirement plan
benefits. Lohrengel died on July 25, 2012. At the time of his
death, Lohrengel was neither married, nor had he been married
during any time that he participated in the Plan. Further,
Lohrengel had no surviving children. According to the terms
of the Plan, a surviving parent is entitled to the Plan
benefits, only if no valid designation exists and there are
no surviving spouse or children.
August 22, 2012, Roy sent correspondence through his counsel
to the Plan demanding that no distributions be made to Pompa.
The letter made allegations that Lohrengel lacked the
computer savvy and the physical and mental capacity to change
his designation of beneficiary on June 26, 2012. The letter
also alleged that Pompa must have changed the designation of
beneficiary without Lohrengel's knowledge or consent.
Plan's governing documents provided that the
Administrator was required to provide a written or electronic
notification of the Plan's adverse determination to the
claimant within a reasonable time, no later than ninety (90)
days after the Plan's receipt of the claim. Any extension
of the time by the Plan was to be noticed to the claimant
within the initial ninety days. Roy did not receive any
written or electronic communication from the Plan.
June 7, 2017, Lohrengel was due $73, 577.29. On June 8, 2017,
Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Interpleader (#1) seeking to
deposit the full amount due to its inability to make a
determination based upon the competing claims of Pompa and
Roy. On August 22, 2017, five years after his initial letter
to the Plan, Roy filed his Cross-claim (#24) against Pompa.
Essentially, Roy asserts that Pompa fraudulently made the
beneficiary designation in her favor. Pompa has now moved for
summary judgment asserting that the statute of limitations
bars Roy's claim.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of
factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is available
only where the absence of material fact allows the Court to
rule as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Rule 56 outlines a burden
shifting approach to summary judgment. First, the moving
party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party
to produce specific evidence of a genuine factual dispute for
trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A genuine issue of fact
exists where the evidence could allow “a reasonable
jury [to] return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The Court views the evidence and draws all available
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fischbach & Moore,
Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986). Yet, to
survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must show more
than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586.
clear terms of the Plan, Lohrengel's benefits are payable
to Pompa as the designated one-hundred percent (100 %)
beneficiary. Roy's claim to the assets succeeds only if
Pompa's designation is void. In order to defeat
Pompa's claim, Roy's cross-claim asserts an action
for declaratory relief seeking to have the Court declare the
beneficiary designation void per Nevada Revised Statute
155.097(2) establishes a rebuttable presumption that a
transfer is presumed to be void if the ...