Financial Services Company Ordered to Pay Retirement Money to Longtime Partner Instead of Ex-Wife

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania announces a victory in a case involving TIAA-CREF, a financial services company, which had awarded a deceased gay man’s retirement benefits to his ex-wife rather than his longtime partner who was named as his beneficiary. On May 27, 2010, in connection with that victory, the parties agreed to settle the surviving partner’s claims against TIAA-CREF in consideration for payment of an undisclosed amount in attorneys’ fees. This January, U.S. District Judge Stewart R. Dalzell ruled in favor of Mr. Thomas Bernardo, Dr. John L. Turner’s life partner of more than 27 years. Dr. Turner, who died in March 2008, was one of the first physicians—to come forward to treat HIV in the earliest years of the epidemic. Judge Dalzell decided that Mr. Bernardo was the lawful beneficiary of all Dr. Turner’s annuity contracts, and that was therefore entitled to the full amount of money in dispute. For more information, read our press release or Judge Dalzell’s opinion.