Case: Tevyaw v. Colvin

1:14-cv-00425 | U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island

Filed Date: Sept. 29, 2014

Closed Date: 2014

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On September 29, 2014, the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the Social Security Administration (SSA). The plaintiff, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, asked the court to declare that several SSA regulations were invalid and contrary to the governing Social Security statutes, affirm that the plaintiff met the marriage requirements, declare that a person previously married to someon…

On September 29, 2014, the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the Social Security Administration (SSA). The plaintiff, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, asked the court to declare that several SSA regulations were invalid and contrary to the governing Social Security statutes, affirm that the plaintiff met the marriage requirements, declare that a person previously married to someone of the same sex met the marriage requirements for Social Security Survivor benefits, so long as the courts of the state the individual resided in would find that the marriage valid, declare that the plaintiffs marriage would have been recognized by Rhode Island, enjoin the defendant to process the plaintiff's application for widow's and lump sum death benefits, and to award the plaintiffs any attorney's fees or costs of suit.

At the time of her wife's death, the plaintiff had been in a same-sex marriage that was formalized in Massachusetts. The plaintiff claimed that on January 17, 2012, the SSA informed her that her marriage did not meet the marriage requirements, and denied her application for benefits. The SSA decision was partially due to the reasoning that the plaintiff's marriage was never a valid marriage under Rhode Island State law. The plaintiff alleged that the SSA violated the rights guaranteed to her by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution by discriminating on the basis of sex and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages that occurred out-of-state. She further claimed that though Rhode Island had not legalized same-sex marriage, it still recognized marriages validly performed in other states.

According to a press release by GLAD, the plaintiff received $30,000 in back benefits from SSA as a part of a private settlement on December 1, 2014. On December 15, 2014, the plaintiff filed a notice of dismissal with the court.

Summary Authors

Megan Dolan (10/7/2014)

Sean Mulloy (11/6/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Smith, William E. (Rhode Island)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts)

Daly, Michael J. (Rhode Island)

Wu, Janson (Massachusetts)

Judge(s)

Smith, William E. (Rhode Island)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts)

Daly, Michael J. (Rhode Island)

Wu, Janson (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:14-cv-00425

Docket [PACER]

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 18, 2014

Docket
1

1:14-cv-00425

Complaint For Declaratory, Injunctive, and Other Relief

Sept. 29, 2014

Sept. 29, 2014

Complaint

1:14-cv-00125

"GLAD Obtains Social Security Survivor Benefits for Disabled RI Widow"

No Court

Dec. 4, 2014

Dec. 4, 2014

Press Release

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 4, 2022, 3:18 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT ( filing fee paid $ 400.00, receipt number 0103−784738 ), filed by Deborah Tevyaw. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Notice of Decision, # 2 Exhibit Instructions, # 3 Exhibit Date Chart, # 4 Exhibit Executive Order, # 5 Exhibit 7/8/14 letter, # 6 Exhibit 7/24/14 letter, # 7 Civil Cover Sheet, # 8 summons)(Daly, Michael) (Entered: 09/29/2014)

Sept. 29, 2014

Sept. 29, 2014

Case assigned to Chief Judge William E. Smith and Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond. (Melendez, Filipa) (Entered: 09/29/2014)

Sept. 29, 2014

Sept. 29, 2014

2

Summons Issued as to Carolyn W. Colvin. (Melendez, Filipa) (Entered: 09/29/2014)

Sept. 29, 2014

Sept. 29, 2014

3

MOTION for Mary Bonauto to Appear Pro Hac Vice ( filing fee paid $ 50.00, receipt number 0103−791417 ) filed by Deborah Tevyaw. (Daly, Michael) (Entered: 10/22/2014)

Oct. 22, 2014

Oct. 22, 2014

4

MOTION for Janson Wu to Appear Pro Hac Vice ( filing fee paid $ 50.00, receipt number 0103−791421 ) filed by Deborah Tevyaw. (Daly, Michael) (Entered: 10/22/2014)

Oct. 22, 2014

Oct. 22, 2014

5

SUMMONS Returned Executed by Deborah Tevyaw. Carolyn W. Colvin served on 10/17/2014, answer due 11/7/2014. (Daly, Michael) (Entered: 10/29/2014)

Oct. 29, 2014

Oct. 29, 2014

TEXT ORDER granting 3 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice of Mary Bonauto ; granting 4 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice of Janson Wu. So Ordered by Chief Judge William E. Smith on 11/10/14. (Jackson, Ryan) (Entered: 11/10/2014)

Nov. 10, 2014

Nov. 10, 2014

6

NOTICE by Deborah Tevyaw of Dismissal (Daly, Michael) (Entered: 12/15/2014)

Dec. 15, 2014

Dec. 15, 2014

TEXT ORDER Entering 6 Notice of Dismissal filed by Deborah Tevyaw. So Ordered by Chief Judge William E. Smith on 12/18/14. (Jackson, Ryan) (Entered: 12/18/2014)

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 18, 2014

Case Details

State / Territory: Rhode Island

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 29, 2014

Closing Date: 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The plaintiff is the surviving widow of a same-sex marriage who was denied widow's insurance and lump sum death benefits.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Social Security Administration, Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Full faith and credit

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: $30,000

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Sexual orientatation

Affected Gender:

Female

Benefit Source:

Social Security Retirement and Death Benefit