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Family Law

Lesbian Spouse of Deceased Cozen Partner Sues Firm and Spouse’s Parents Over Benefits

Posted Aug 2, 2011 3:27 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Married in Canada to a Cozen O'Connor partner, the lesbian spouse of Sarah Ellyn Farley filed a counterclaim in federal court in Philadelphia yesterday staking a claim to benefits following Farley's death.

Naming the firm and Farley's parents as defendants, Jennifer Tobits says she is entitled to her spouse's profit-sharing plan, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Meanwhile, Farley's parents also filed a counterclaim yesterday, alleging that their daughter signed a beneficiary form in their favor on the day before her death and contending that her Canadian marriage isn't recognized as valid under federal law.

A subsequent Legal Intelligencer article provides additional details.

Cozen filed an interpleader action in January, saying that no valid beneficiary form signed by Farley exists and seeking the court's help in determining to whom the benefits, which are worth about $40,000, should be paid.

In her counterclaim, Tobits also alleges a breach of fiduciary duty by Cozen. She says the law firm failed Farley by not informing her about profit-sharing provisions that "might create uncertainty" about Tobits' role as surviving spouse after Farley's death.

Farley, who was 37 and worked in the Philadelphia-based firm's Chicago office, died of cancer in September.

Earlier coverage:

Death of Female Partner Puts Cozen Firm in Center of Same-Sex Marriage Comity Case"

Updated on Aug. 3 to include link to Legal Intelligencer article.

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