Submitted: November 17, 2016
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
BENTON and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and EBINGER,  District
BENTON, Circuit Judge.
Sveen designated his then-wife, Kaye L. Melin, as the primary
beneficiary of his life insurance policy, and his children as
contingent beneficiaries. Later, Minnesota extended its
revocation-upon-divorce statute to life insurance policies.
The district court awarded the proceeds to the children,
rejecting Melin's argument that applying the statute
retroactively is an impermissible impairment under the
Contract Clause. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1291, this court reverses and remands.
purchased the life insurance policy in 1997 and married Melin
later that year. The following year, he named her as the
primary beneficiary and his two adult children as contingent
beneficiaries. Sveen had additional life insurance with his
children as primary beneficiaries. Melin and Sveen divorced
in 2007. Sveen never changed the beneficiary designation on
2002, Minnesota amended its probate code to apply the
revocation-upon-divorce statute to life insurance beneficiary
designations: "the dissolution or annulment of a
marriage revokes any revocable . . . beneficiary designation
. . . made by an individual to the individual's former
spouse." Minn. Stat. Ann. § 524.2-804.
Sveen died in 2011, Melin was still the primary beneficiary
on the policy. The insurance company filed an interpleader to
determine whether the revocation-upon-divorce statute revoked
this beneficiary designation. Sveen's children-the
contingent beneficiaries-and Melin cross-claimed for the
proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment to the
Sveens. This court reviews constitutional claims de novo.
Walker v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 831
F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 2016).
Sveens argue that Melin lacks standing to assert a
constitutional challenge to the revocation-upon-divorce
non-party may assert a claim under a contract if the
individual is a third-party beneficiary. See Dayton Dev.
Co. v. Gilman Fin. Servs., Inc., 419 F.3d 852, 855 (8th
Cir. 2005). Third-party standing is appropriate where: (1)
the litigant "suffered an 'injury in fact, ' [ ]
giving him or her a 'sufficiently concrete interest'
in the outcome of the issue in dispute"; (2) what the
litigant seeks has a "close relation" to the rights
of the absent party; and (3) there is "some hindrance to
the [absent] party's ability to protect his or her own
interests." Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 411
(1991), quoting Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106,
contested beneficiary like Melin has standing because: (1)
she would suffer the loss of policy proceeds, a concrete
injury, if the statute were applied; (2) she seeks to enforce
the contract as written, vindicating Sveen's written
intent; and (3) Sveen's death hinders his ability to
protect his interest to enforce the contract. See,
e.g., Mearns v. Scharbach, 12 P.3d 1048, 1055
(Wash.Ct.App. 2000) (holding former spouse had third-party
standing to assert constitutional ...