Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. M.E.C. et al
OPINION AND ORDER that Defendants M.E.C. (a minor child) and Mikki D. Brasher's 20 motion to approve the settlement is granted; that Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's 21 motion for payment of guardian ad litem fees from p olicy proceeds is denied; that Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company shall pay guardian ad litem Andrew Salser's fees; that the clerk is to make appropriate arrangements for the disbursement of the funds; that this case is closed. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 7/25/2012. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(cc, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
M.E.C. (a minor) and
MIKKI D. BRASHER,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
(“MetLife”) filed this interpleader action pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 against defendants
M.E.C. (a minor child) and Mikki D. Brasher seeking to
have them determine between themselves who is the proper
beneficiary of a life-insurance policy.
This cause is
now before the court on defendants’ motion to approve
settlement and plaintiff MetLife’s motion for guardian ad
litem fees to be paid from policy proceeds.
settlement is approved and MetLife’s guardian fees motion
The $ 120,000 policy originally named the
After a year of being unable to resolve
this dispute through settlement, MetLife brought this
The parties have now settled, with M.E.C. receiving
$ 100,000 and Brasher getting $ 20,000.
M.E.C. receives the entirety of the interest earned:
Because M.E.C. is a minor (16 years old),
this court appointed a guardian ad litem, the Honorable
Andrew Salser, to manage the settlement trust.
M.E.C.’s trust provides that she will receive three
annual payments of $20,000 at ages 19, 20, and 21.
Starting at age 22, she will receive $ 500 monthly
payments until the trust is depleted.
M.E.C. may access the trust to spend up to $ 20,000 for
the purchase of an automobile.
She may also access funds
classes, music lessons, private tutoring, and mission
Pursuant to a fee arrangement, M.E.C.’s attorneys
will receive a third ($ 33,333.33) of M.E.C.’s share of
On June 15, 2012, the court held an on-the-record
questioned M.E.C. regarding the settlement and concludes
that she fully understands and agrees to the settlement
The court also makes an independent finding that
the settlement is fair and reasonable.
In response to this court’s reference to Allstate
Insurance Co. v. Jones, 763 F. Supp. 1101 (M.D. Ala.
requesting that the guardian ad litem fees be paid from
the life-insurance proceeds.
MetLife cites case law
where, in an interpleader action, the guardian ad litem
fees are paid out of the insurance proceeds.
Harleysville Life Insurance Co. v. Wright, 2007 WL 748659
(S.D. Ala. Mar. 8, 2007) (Cassady, M.J.) (disbursing
guardian ad litem fees, albeit as part of settlement
agreement). MetLife also notes that, unlike the plaintiff
Allstate, it never sought to avoid liability under
In fact, MetLife sought a determination as
to the distribution of the life-insurance policy between
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 provides that
costs are normally taxed to the prevailing party, absent
a court order to the contrary.
Ultimately, this decision
is left to the discretion of the district court.
763 F. Supp. at 1102.
Here, the guardian ad litem stated during the June
15, 2012, settlement hearing that his fees should be paid
by MetLife, not from the policy proceeds.
And, during a
predicted that the guardian ad litem’s fees would not
exceed $ 1,000.
Salser confirmed at the settlement
hearing that his fees would be in the $ 1,000 range.
Because MetLife initiated this litigation and required
concludes that equity ways in favor of MetLife paying the
guardian ad litem’s fees.
See Jones, 763 F. Supp. at
1102 (plaintiff insurance company bore guardian ad litem
“immediately necessitated the appointment of the guardian
ad litem by bringing this declaratory judgment action and
naming the injured minor ... as a defendant” and thus the
minor’s “role in the litigation is involuntary”).
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that:
(1) Defendants M.E.C. (a minor child) and Mikki D.
Brasher’s motion to approve the settlement (Doc. No. 20)
(2) Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s
motion for payment of guardian ad litem fees from policy
proceeds (Doc. No. 21) is denied.
Life Insurance Company shall pay guardian ad litem Andrew
arrangements for the disbursement of the funds.
This case is closed.
DONE, this the 25th day of July, 2012.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?