Jenner & Block

Partner Adam Unikowsky to Argue Contracts Clause Case before US Supreme Court

Jenner & Block Partner Adam G. Unikowsky will argue Sveen v. Melin, a case that concerns “revocation-upon-divorce” statutes.   Those statutes provide that if a person names his or her spouse as a life insurance beneficiary and then divorces, the divorce automatically revokes the beneficiary designation.  If the person really wants his or her ex-spouse to remain as the beneficiary, the person must go back to the life insurance company and re-designate the ex-spouse as the beneficiary.   The question before the Court is whether the Constitution’s Contracts Clause permits “revocation-upon-divorce” statutes to be applied to life insurance policies that were purchased before the statutes were passed.  Mr. Unikowsky will argue that they can indeed be applied retroactively.  His clients are Ashley and Antone Sveen (the decedent’s children from an earlier relationship).  The party on the other side is Kaye Melin (the decedent’s ex-wife). 

The Court recently granted certiorari in the case.  When Mr. Unikowsky argues before the Court in March 2018, it will mark his second appearance this term and represent the firm’s fourth case this term.  Last term, Mr. Unikowsky argued three cases before the Court and won each.