Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. London et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment 17 is GRANTED; that Plaintiff's Motion to Pay Funds into the Court and for Order of Dismissal 15 is GRANTED in part. No later than June 17, 2013, MetLife shall pa y into the registry of the court the FEGLI Benefits, plus any applicable interest. Upon such payment, the court will dismiss MetLife with prejudice, discharge it from further liability, and enter an appropriate injunction as further set out. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 5/20/2013. (jg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
VICTOR LONDON, DORA L. HILL, )
and SIGNATURE GROUP
CASE NO. 2:12-CV-1067-WKW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”) has moved for
entry of default judgment against Victor London (Doc. # 17) and to interplead funds
into the court and be dismissed (Doc. # 15). Its motions will be granted.
MetLife brings an interpleader action naming Dora L. Hill, Victor London, and
Signature Group Financial, LLC, as Defendants. Ms. Hill is the named beneficiary
of a policy issued under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act
(“FEGLIA”) payable upon the death of the decedent, Jesse Williams, Sr. MetLife
administers FEGLIA policies, which are issued pursuant to federal law. See 5 U.S.C.
§§ 8701–16. Ms. Hill assigned $7,483 of the total $8,750 in FEGLIA benefits to the
funeral home that handled Mr. Williams’s arrangements, and the funeral home, in
turn, assigned that sum to Signature Group Financial, LLC. Before MetLife could
distribute the benefits, it received an undated letter from Mr. London, a relative of Mr.
Williams, stating that Ms. Hill “committed identity theft on several” of Mr. Williams’s
accounts and that Ms. Hill’s claim was fraudulent. (Doc. # 1, Ex. E.) MetLife
brought its interpleader complaint to avoid exposure to double liability.
The complaint arises under federal law as that term is used in 28 U.S.C. § 1331
because a FEGLIA policy “is not a private contract between the insured and the
insurer, but a federal policy administered under federal law.” O’Neal v. Gonzalez, 839
F.2d 1437, 1440 (11th Cir. 1988). There is, therefore, a jurisdictional basis for the
claim in federal court, and Rule 22 interpleader is available because MetLife has
joined three parties who it believes have “claims that may expose [it] to double or
multiple liability.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 22(a).
II. MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Mr. London, one of the three adverse parties who MetLife believes may subject
it to multiple liability, has failed to answer. MetLife moves for a default judgment
against him. See Sun Life Assur. Co. of Canada v. Conroy, 431 F. Supp. 2d 220, 226
(D.R.I. 2006) (“A named interpleader defendant who fails to answer the interpleader
complaint and assert a claim to the res forfeits any claim of entitlement that might
have been asserted.”). MetLife has complied with the procedural requirements for
obtaining a default judgment, as it has secured an entry of default from the clerk based
upon Defendants’ failure to file an answer or otherwise defend this action. (Doc. #
20); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). Accordingly, MetLife’s Motion for Default
Judgment (Doc. # 17) is due to be granted.
III. MOTION TO DISCHARGE LIABILITY
MetLife asserts that the requirements for interpleader have been met, and,
therefore, it should be discharged from further liability. (Docs. # 1, 15.) It represents
that the Defendants who have appeared, Ms. Hill and Signature Group Financial,
consent to MetLife’s discharge from the case. MetLife has disavowed all interest in
the res and asks the court to enjoin all Defendants from instituting any action or
proceeding in any court against MetLife for the recovery of the res. Kurland v. United
States, 919 F. Supp. 419, 422 (M.D. Fla. 1996) (“Interpleader gives the disinterested
party the ability to bow out, leaving the actual parties with real interests at stake to
litigate their claims.”). Further, MetLife has waived its complaint request for
attorneys’ fees and costs. In light of the default judgment against Mr. London, the
remaining Defendants’ consent, and MetLife’s imminent satisfaction of the
requirements of interpleader, it is entitled to the relief it seeks.
It is ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. # 17) is
It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Pay Funds into the Court and
for Order of Dismissal (Doc. # 15) is GRANTED in part. No later than June 17,
2013, MetLife shall pay into the registry of the court the FEGLI Benefits, plus any
applicable interest. Upon such payment, the court will dismiss MetLife with
prejudice, discharge it from further liability, and enter an appropriate injunction.
At that time, Ms. Hill and Signature Group Financial will be required to litigate
or settle and adjust between them their claims for the FEGLI benefits. If, as it
appears, they are in agreement, they should file a notice reflecting such agreement and
informing the court how they wish it to direct the res no later than June 17, 2013. Cf.
Valley Forge Life Ins. Co. v. Rockmore, 7:07-CV-0063(HL), 2008 WL 1805450, at
*1 (M.D. Ga. Apr. 18, 2008) (finding that if “all but one named interpleader defendant
has defaulted, the remaining defendant is entitled to the res”).
DONE this 20th day of May, 2013.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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