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Maldonado-Vinas v. National Western Life Insurance Co.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 29, 2017

DAMARIS MALDONADO-VINAS; JUAN CARLOS IGLESIAS-MALDONADO; and JOSÉ CARLOS IGLESIAS-MALDONADO, Plaintiffs, Appellees,
v.
NATIONAL WESTERN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant, Appellant.

          Date of Issuance 7/5/2017

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Camille L. Vélez-Rivé, U.S. Magistrate Judge]

          Salvador J. Antonetti-Stutts, with whom Carla García-Benítez, Alejandro J. García-Carballo, and O'Neill & Borges, LLC were on brief, for appellant.

          José A. Hernández-Mayoral, for appellees.

          Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant-appellant National Western Life Insurance Co. ("National Western") appeals from a judgment in favor of Plaintiffs Damaris Maldonado-Viñas ("Maldonado"), Juan Carlos Iglesias Maldonado, and José Carlos Iglesias Maldonado (collectively, "Plaintiffs") that invalidated two life insurance annuity policies. National Western argues that: (1) the beneficiary of the two annuities was a necessary party under Fed.R.Civ.P. 19, even though National Western had already paid him; (2) one annuity policy was not void even though the application was not executed in accordance with National Western's internal policies; and (3) the second annuity policy was not void under Puerto Rico law solely because it was processed by an insurance agent who was not licensed by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

         We vacate the judgment and remand for further findings concerning the necessity of joining the beneficiary under Rule 19.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         At the time of his death on November 2, 2011, Carlos Iglesias-Álvarez ("Carlos"[1] or "the decedent") had been married to Maldonado for about twenty-two years. Plaintiffs Juan Carlos Iglesias Maldonado and José Carlos Iglesias Maldonado are the children of Maldonado and Carlos. Plaintiffs are Carlos's legal heirs.

         This case primarily concerns defects in the execution of two life insurance annuity policies which Carlos purchased through National Western. On April 30, 2011, Carlos purchased a life insurance policy through National Western ("Annuity No. 1"). Two days later, on May 2, 2011, Carlos purchased a second policy. Due to issues with the execution of that policy, it was cancelled by National Western and reissued ("Annuity No. 2"). Under both policies, Carlos named his brother, Francisco Iglesias-Álvarez ("Francisco") as the sole beneficiary.

         Carlos paid $1, 467, 500 each, a total of $2, 935, 000, for the annuities. Both policies contained defects in their execution. The agent who issued Annuity No. 1 on National Western's behalf was not licensed by Puerto Rico Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. Annuity No. 2 was not executed in accordance with National Western's internal policies. Despite these defects, National Western issued the two policies on April 30, 2011 and June 7, 2011.

         After Carlos's death on November 2, 2011, Francisco mailed a claim form to National Western seeking benefits from Annuity No. 2. National Western informed Francisco that he was also the beneficiary of Annuity No. 1 and that he needed to submit a second claim form and some additional information. Francisco mailed the requested information on February 9, ...


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