These appeals require us to determine whether state courts have subject matter jurisdiction to decide that a state court issued domestic relations order is a QDRO as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 88 Stat. 832, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. We conclude that they do and thus that the Nevada Supreme Court’s QDRO determination in Mack v. Estate of Mack, 206 P.3d 98 (Nev. 2009), is entitled to full faith and credit. We reverse and remand with instructions for the district court to direct Joan Mack to deposit the contested funds with the court, if she has not already done so, and to award the funds to Randal Kuckenmeister, administrator of Charla Mack’s Estate.
Darren Mack and Charla Mack were engaged in divorce proceedings throughout 2005 and into the early part of 2006. As part of the divorce, Darren Mack agreed that the court would execute an order that would name Charla as the alternate payee of a 401(k) plan. The state court tasked Charla Mack’s attorney with writing an order to that effect for the court’s signature. Prior to the signing of the order, however, Darren Mack murdered Charla and shot the state court judge who was presiding over the divorce. No written order was entered by the state court before Charla’s death.
After Charla’s death, her estate was granted permission to substitute for Charla in the remainder of the divorce proceedings. The estate moved for entry of an order nunc pro tunc that would memorialize what the estate saw as oral orders entered by the original divorce judge before Charla was killed. The motion was granted, and on June 20, 2007, the state court entered an order, nunc pro tunc as of January 9, 2006—a date when Charla was still alive—stating that “a QDRO will be executed which will transfer to Mrs. Mack the sum of five hundred thousand dollars with any appreciation that is distributed to that five hundred thousand dollars.” Darren Mack appealed the order to the Nevada Supreme Court, where he argued, inter alia, that the order contravened federal law relating to retirement accounts.
Judge(s): Tashima, Thomas, Stafford
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Related Categories: Civil Procedure , Wills / Trusts / Estates
|Circuit Court Judge(s)|
|Trial Court Judge(s)|
|William Stafford, Jr.|
|Plaintiff Lawyer(s)||Plaintiff Law Firm(s)|
|Todd Bader||Bader & Ryan Ltd|
|Defendant Lawyer(s)||Defendant Law Firm(s)|
|Ryan W. Herrick, Esquire, Attorney||Jones Vargas|
|Ann Morgan, Attorney||Jones Vargas|
|Mark Wray, Attorney||Law Offices of Mark Wray|