GEICO General Insurance Company v. Bethea et al
ORDER granting 13 Motion for Default Judgment as to Boyington Health Care Facility. Signed by Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., on 10/30/2017. (BR)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE
CAUSE NO. 1:17CV243-LG-RHW
JACK BETHEA; MEMORIAL
HOSPITAL AT GULFPORT;
REVCLAIMS, LLC; HUMANA
BOYINGTON HEALTH CARE
FACILITY; MEDICARE &
STATES OF AMERICA; and
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion for Default Judgment  filed by the
plaintiff GEICO General Insurance Company in this interpleader action. Having
reviewed the Motion and supporting evidence, the record in this action, and the
applicable law, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion should be granted.
On September 26, 2015, Jack Bethea was seriously injured in a hit-and-run
accident while walking on 2nd Street in Gulfport, Mississippi. At the time of the
accident, Bethea had a GEICO insurance policy that provided $50,000 in
uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage. GEICO filed this
interpleader action naming all of the individuals and entities that are believed to
have a claim to the insurance proceeds, including Bethea, Medicare & Medicaid
Services, and Bethea’s medical providers.
GEICO served a copy of its Complaint for Interpleader and Other Relief on
Boyington Health Care Facility on August 8, 2017. To date, Boyington has not filed
a responsive pleading and the time for doing so has expired. The Clerk entered
default under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a) on October 20, 2017. GEICO has now filed its
Motion for Default Judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2).
Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2), a party may apply to the Court to enter a
default judgment in an action where the defendant has failed to plead or otherwise
defend, as in this action. In its Complaint, GEICO stated that some of the
defendants have liens on the insurance proceeds, and that the liens exceed the
amount of the insurance benefits. The Court finds that the Complaint allegations
are well-pleaded and should be accepted as true. See LPP Mortg. Ltd. v. TAZ, Inc.,
No. 2:14cv39-KS-MTP, 2014 WL 4273266, at *2 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 28, 2014) (“By his
default, a defendant admits the well-pleaded allegations of fact in the complaint.”)
The Court has also reviewed the exhibits attached to the Complaint, which
establish that GEICO “is or may be exposed to double or multiple liability.” See
Landrum v. Conseco Life Ins. Co., No. 2012 WL 2154351, at *1-2 (S.D. Miss. June
13, 2012) (explaining that a party seeking a default judgment in an interpleader
action must demonstrate that it is exposed to double or multiple liability).
GEICO’s Complaint sought to require the defendants to assert their
respective claims to the policy benefits, and it asked the Court to enjoin or restrain
the defendants from prosecuting a lawsuit against GEICO in an attempt to recover
the benefits. “It has been repeatedly held that the failure of a named interpleader
defendant to answer the interpleader complaint and assert a claim to the res can be
viewed as forfeiting any claim of entitlement that might have been asserted.” Gulf
Coast Galvanizing, Inc. v. Steel Sales, Co., Inc., 826 F. Supp. 197, 203 (S.D. Miss.
1993). Thus, Boyington’s failure to respond to the Complaint and assert a timely
claim constitutes a waiver of any claim it may have had to the policy benefits. As a
result, Boyington is not entitled to any portion of the uninsured motorist benefits at
issue. Under these circumstances, an evidentiary hearing or oral argument is
unnecessary before entering a default judgment in favor of GEICO. See, e.g., SUA
Ins. Co. v. Buras, 421 F. App’x 384, 385 (5th Cir. 2011).
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Motion for
Default Judgment  filed by the plaintiff GEICO General Insurance Company is
IT IS, FURTHER, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Boyington Health
Care Facility is not entitled to any portion of the uninsured motorist benefits at
issue in this interpleader action. A separate default judgment will be entered.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 30th day of October, 2017.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
Chief United States District Judge
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