Maretta v. Hillman

Judy Maretta, as the named beneficiary of a Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) policy, received FEGLI benefits upon the death of her ex-husband. Jacqueline Hillman, the widow of the deceased, filed an action against Maretta, claiming that pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 20-111.1(D), Maretta was liable to her for the death benefits received. Maretta claimed that the state law was preempted by 5 U.S.C. 8705 and 8705 because the state statutes granted FEGLI benefits to someone other than the named beneficiary in violation of FEGLIA's terms. The circuit court concluded that section 20-111.1(D) was not preempted by FEGLIA and entered judgment against Maretta. The Supreme Court reversed and entered judgment for Maretta, holding that because Congress intended for FEGLI benefits to be paid and to belong to a designated beneficiary, FEGLIA preempts section 20-111.1(D).