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COPELAND - 3 S.W.3d 598(Tex.App-San Antonio 1999 Billy...

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3 S.W.3d 598 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 1999) Billy COPELAND, Appellant v. Tammy ALSOBROOK, et al, Appellee No. 04-98-00155-CV In the Fourth Court of Appeals San Antonio Delivered and Filed: June 2, 1999 Rehearing Overruled July 21, 1999. Page 599 [Copyrighted Material Omitted] Page 600 From the 57th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 96-CI-11733, Honorable David Peeples, Judge Presiding.1 Sitting: Alma L. Lopez, Justice, Catherine Stone, Justice, Paul W. Green, Justice AFFIRMED Opinion by: Alma L. Lopez, Justice This an appeal from a bench trial awarding the appellee, Tammy Alsobrook, $39,699.35. In addition, Alsobrook was awarded $16,000.00 in attorney's fees. The judgment was awarded from life insurance proceeds paid out to the appellant, Billy Copeland, as a secondary beneficiary under his son's life insurance policy. The proceeds were originally paid into the registry of the court. Because we find the parties entered into a contract by which Copeland agreed to pay his son's debt owed to Alsobrook's parents, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. Statement of Facts and Procedural Background Forrest Copeland married Tammy Alsobrook in 1985. The two had been married for approximately six years when they divorced in 1991. During the marriage, Copeland had borrowed money from various relatives and friends, including his in-laws. The borrowed funds were used for the purpose of establishing and maintaining his business as a diamond wholesaler. While married to Alsobrook, Copeland had also purchased a life insurance policy from Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company ("Connecticut Mutual"). Under the policy, Alsobrook was named the primary beneficiary followed by Copeland's father as the secondary beneficiary. Pursuant to the divorce decree, Copeland maintained his interest in the policy. Under the decree, the debts owed by Forrest Copeland were outlined. Included as a debt, was the amount of $12,000 owed to Jerry Alsobrook, his former father-in-law. Copeland had also borrowed the additional sum of $24,874.66 from the Alsobrooks for his business, Victory Diamonds & Gem Imports. Jerry Alsobrook died in 1996, leaving as survivors his wife, Patricia and their daughter. After the divorce, Forrest became increasingly ill as a result of a brain tumor. On December 9, 1994, he died of complications resulting from medications he had taken to alleviate his pain. Prior to his death, no steps had been undertaken by Forrest to re-designate his ex-wife as the primary beneficiary.2 In addition, Forrest had allowed the insurance policy to lapse when he failed to make timely premium payments. After Forrest's death, attempts were made by both Alsobrook and Copeland to gain access to the insurance Page 601 policy proceeds in January 1995. At that time, the parties believed Alsobrook was the rightful primary
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beneficiary. Alsobrook's purpose for obtaining the proceeds was to pay the debts owed by her former husband, including any debts owed to her parents.
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