Court Asked to Decide Beneficiary in Vt. Case of Murdered Father

January 30, 2008

An insurance company holding a life insurance policy on a Vermont man who was shot to death — allegedly by his own son — wants a court to decide who gets the $150,000.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. asked U.S. District Court in Rutland to determine whether the estate of Bernard Congdon gets the proceeds of the 1987 policy or Congdon’s son does.

Aaron Congdon, 17, of Chittenden, the sole beneficiary of the policy, is charged with first-degree murder in the May 5 death of the older Congdon, 53, a Select Board member found slain in the home he shared with his son.

Congdon, who is charged as an adult, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial in March. His lawyer is trying to have the case moved to juvenile court and says the boy was insane at the time of the killing.

The insurance company, meanwhile, is caught in the middle.

“Both Aaron Congdon and the estate of Bernard Congdon are potential adverse claimants to the proceeds from the policies,” according to the suit, filed last week by Eric Poehlmann, a Burlington lawyer representing the insurance company. “Because of these potential adverse claims, MassMutual is in doubt and cannot make a determination as to which of the claimants it may safely pay the proceeds of the policies.”

In his filing, Poehlmann said Massachusetts Mutual wants to avoid a legal fight by putting the money in escrow, with the court managing it.

“The stake in this matter is at risk for double, multiple or inconsistent claims and judgments. MassMutual should not be compelled to become involved in a dispute between the defendants over the allocation of the proceeds,” Poehlmann wrote.

Christopher Corsones, a lawyer for Bernard Congdon’s estate, could not be reached for comment on the insurance company’s petition Monday. He did not immediately return a telephone call. Barry Griffith, the boy’s court-appointed guardian ad litem in the criminal case, declined comment Monday, saying he hadn’t seen the complaint.


Information from: Rutland Herald,

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