Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suit Contests Deputy's Insurance; Ex-Fiance Was Named Beneficiary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suit Contests Deputy's Insurance; Ex-Fiance Was Named Beneficiary

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon, Shorelines staff writer

The family of a St. Johns County sheriff's deputy who was killed in a Palm Valley auto accident this year has sued his former fiance and the Sheriff's Office over insurance benefits.

Twenty-year-old deputy Joshua Edwin Blyler was killed early May 2 when his patrol car veered off Palm Valley Road near Canal Boulevard and hit a pole. He was responding to what eventually would prove to be a bogus 911 call.

Blyler's family has filed a lawsuit in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court to claim the insurance benefits that are set to be paid to the deputy's former fiance. The couple had called off their engagement before he was killed.

The suit, filed Sept. 24, names Kelly Gillain as the defendant along with two insurance companies and Sheriff Neil Perry. The suit was drafted by Jacksonville attorney Wayne Hogan on behalf of the fallen deputy's father, Johnny Blyler of Jacksonville.

Gillain and Blyler became engaged in May 2003 when Blyler proposed to her and bought her an engagement ring. After Blyler became a deputy in August 2003, he named Gillain as a beneficiary in his Sheriff's Office insurance policies.

Attorney Angelo Patacca, who's assisting Hogan, said the combined insurance payouts for Blyler's death could amount to $400,000. Gillain has indicated she wants that money.

"It was her intention to accept the money. That's my understanding and it's the family's understanding," Patacca said this week.

Gillain wants to collect on the death benefits from both the Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada and AIG Life Insurance Co. policies as well as federal benefits. But the suit says Blyler and Gillain ended their relationship well before the fatal accident.

"On or about March 30, 2004, Gillain decided to terminate the engagement and her relationship with Deputy Blyler and she called off the wedding," the suit states, adding Blyler retrieved the engagement ring from Gillain April 15.

The 12-page filing goes on to state that Blyler had "expressly voiced his desire, and it was his specific intent, to remove Gillain as beneficiary on each of his life insurance policies. …

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