Alexander v. Moore
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER directing as follows: (1) Pan-American's Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. # 17 ) is GRANTED; (2) Defendants and their respective agents, attorneys, representatives, heirs, executors, assigns, and all persons claim ing through or under them are PERMANENTLY RESTRAINED and ENJOINED from instituting or prosecuting any proceeding in any State or United States court affecting the policy proceeds involved in this interpleader action until further order of this court ; (3) Pan-American is DISCHARGED from all liability with regard to claims to the interpleaded funds and is DISMISSED as a party to this lawsuit; (4) The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to take all necessary and appropriate steps to manage or store the funds as unclaimed funds until further order of the court; and (5) The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to serve a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order and the Final Judgment on Defendants by first-class mail. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on April 21, 2015. (Furnished to Clerk of Court and to Finance.)(scn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MARY ANN ALEXANDER and
LORI NICOLE MOORE,
CASE NO. 2:14-CV-994-WKW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is Plaintiff Pan-American Assurance Co.’s Motion for
Default Judgment. (Doc. # 17.) For the reasons that follow, Pan-American’s
motion is due to be granted.
I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
The requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1335 for this court’s exercise of subjectmatter jurisdiction are satisfied because: 1) this action involves an insurance policy
in excess of $500; 2) two or more adverse claimants have claimed an entitlement to
the proceeds of the policy; 3) the citizenship of two or more of the claimants is
diverse; and 4) Pan-American has deposited the insurance policy proceeds at issue
into the court’s registry. The court exercises personal jurisdiction over Defendants
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2361. Venue is not contested.
Pan-American brought this statutory interpleader action on September 26,
2014, for a judicial determination of the rightful beneficiary of an adjustable termlife insurance policy, number 9200885800 (“Policy”). See 28 U.S.C. § 1335. In
1994, Pan-American issued the Policy, which has a $25,000 face value, to Stephen
Alexander. Mr. Alexander died in July 2014, and the benefits under the Policy are
due and payable. But, as alleged, Defendants, who are Mr. Alexander’s ex-wife
(Mary Ann Alexander) and his daughter (Lori Nicole Moore), made competing
claims for the Policy proceeds. In the Complaint, Pan-American requests that the
court enter an order (1) permitting it to deposit the Policy proceeds into the court’s
registry, (2) discharging it from all liability under the Policy and dismissing it as a
party, (3) determining the proper claimant to the Policy proceeds, (4) enjoining
Defendants from commencing any other action seeking recovery of the Policy
proceeds, and (5) awarding it attorney’s fees and costs.
Pan-American perfected service on Ms. Alexander on October 6, 2014, and
on Ms. Moore on October 8, 2014. Neither Defendant responded to the Complaint
or otherwise defended; therefore, upon Pan-American’s application for entry of
default, the Clerk of the Court entered Defendants’ default on February 26, 2015.
Pan-American now moves the court to enter default judgment against Defendants,
permanently enjoining and restraining them from instituting or pursuing any state or
federal court action for the recovery of the Policy proceeds.1 It also moves for an
order discharging it from further liability and for dismissal from this action.
Notably, Pan-American no longer requests a judgment with respect to which
Defendant is entitled to the proceeds.
The following discussion addresses Pan-American’s requests for an Order
discharging it from further liability to Defendants with respect to the Policy
proceeds and for dismissal (Part III.A) and its motion for default judgment against
Defendants (Part III.B).
Pan-American’s Requests for Discharge and Dismissal
Pan-American requests the court to discharge it from further liability to
Defendants with respect to the Policy proceeds and dismiss it from this action.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2361, in an interpleader action, the district court “may
discharge the plaintiff from further liability.” “Before discharging a stakeholder
under § 2361, the court must first determine whether the requirements of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1335 . . . have been met.” Mendez v. Teachers Ins. & Annuity Ass’n & Coll. Ret.
Equities Fund, 982 F.2d 783, 787 (2d Cir. 1992).
Additionally, “[w]hen the
stakeholder has no interest in the funds in controversy, it is appropriate to dismiss
the stakeholder from the action once the stakeholder has deposited the funds . . . .”
A prior order permitted Pan-American to deposit the funds at issue into the court’s
registry, and Pan-American has deposited the funds.
Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Bell, No. 6:14cv473, 2014 WL 8021562, at *7 (M.D. Fla.
Oct. 9, 2014), report and recommendation adopted by 2015 WL 926040 (M.D. Fla.
Mar. 4, 2015).
The requirements of § 1335 are met, including the deposit of the Policy
proceeds into the court’s registry, as found in Part I.
Moreover, there is no
indication in the record that Pan-American, as the stakeholder which asserts no
claim to the stake, has any further obligations under the Policy with respect to
Defendants. Accordingly, Pan-American’s requests for a discharge and dismissal
are due to be granted.
Pan-American’s Motion for Default Judgment
Pan-American moves for a default judgment that enjoins Defendants pursuant
to § 2361 from commencing any court action for the recovery of the Policy
proceeds. See Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. London, No. 12cv1067, 2013 WL 2181295,
at *1 (M.D. Ala. May 20, 2013) (“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.” (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted)). The record reflects that Pan-American has complied with the procedural
requirements for obtaining a default judgment, as it has secured an entry of default
from the Clerk of the Court based upon each Defendant’s failure to make an
appearance in this action or otherwise offer a defense. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). In
defaulting, Defendants “admit[ ] the plaintiff’s well-pleaded allegations of fact.”
Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat’l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
1975).2 And the well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint demonstrate a “sufficient
basis” to support Pan-American’s request for a permanent injunction against
Defendants prohibiting them “from instituting or prosecuting any proceeding in any
State or United States court affecting” the Policy proceeds. § 2361. Accordingly,
Pan-American’s Motion for Default Judgment is due to be granted.
Based upon the foregoing, it ORDERED as follows:
Pan-American’s Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. # 17) is
Defendants – and their respective agents, attorneys, representatives,
heirs, executors, assigns, and all persons claiming through or under them – are
PERMANENTLY RESTRAINED and ENJOINED from instituting or prosecuting
any proceeding in any State or United States court affecting the policy proceeds
involved in this interpleader action until further order of this court;
Pan-American is DISCHARGED from all liability with regard to
claims to the interpleaded funds and is DISMISSED as a party to this lawsuit;
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, the Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all
decisions of the former Fifth Circuit issued prior to October 1, 1981. See 661 F.2d 1206, 1209
(11th Cir. 1981) (en banc).
The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to take all necessary and
appropriate steps to manage or store the funds as unclaimed funds until further order
of the court; and
The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to serve a copy of this
Memorandum Opinion and Order and the Final Judgment on Defendants by firstclass mail.
The Final Judgment will be entered separately.
DONE this 21st day of April, 2015.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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