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Cook v. State Farm Life Ins. Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

January 12, 2015

KRISTIN COOK, Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
STATE FARM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff/Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
HILARY WADE BURTON, Third-Party Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff

For Kristin Cook, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Jeremiah M Hodges, Timothy M McFalls, LEAD ATTORNEYS, HODGES TRIAL LAWYERS PC, Huntsville, AL.

For State Farm Life Insurance Company, Defendant, ThirdParty Plaintiff, Counter Claimant: Katherine T Powell, LEAD ATTORNEY, A David Fawal, BUTLER SNOW LLC, Birmingham, AL.

For Hilary Wade Burton, ThirdParty Defendant, Counter Claimant: Morris Lilienthal, MARTINSON & BEASON, PC, Huntsville, AL.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOHN H. ENGLAND, III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

On October 17, 2014, Plaintiff Kristin Cook (" Cook") filed a complaint against Defendant State Farm Life Insurance Company (" State Farm"). (Doc. 1). On November 21, 2014, State Farm answered the complaint and included an interpleader counterclaim against Kristin Cook and a third-party interpleader complaint against Third-Party Defendant Hilary Wade Burton (" Burton"), contending there are adverse claims for the funds at issue in this action. (Doc. 5). That same day, State Farm moved to deposit funds with this Court in the amount of the benefits of the insurance policies, plus any applicable interest, and to be dismissed from the action with prejudice. (Doc. 7). The two insurance policies at issue are Policy LF-1947-4763, with benefits payable as of the date of the policyholder's death of $46, 113.97 plus applicable interest, and Policy LF-2267-9040, with benefits payable as of the date of the policyholder's death of $59, 086.81 plus applicable interest. (Id. at ¶ 3). After Burton was served and answered, (doc. 13), State Farm supplemented its motion for interpleader and for dismissal to inform the Court neither opposing party opposed its motion, (doc. 14).

A defendant may file a claim for interpleader where others' claims may expose it to double or multiple liability. Fed.R.Civ.P. 22(a)(1), (2). In its pleadings, State Farm admits it holds no interest in the life insurance policies and it has an obligation to pay the benefit in accordance with the terms of the policies, (doc. 5 at ¶ 12; doc. 7 at ¶ ¶ 9-10; doc. 14 at ¶ ¶ 5-6), but it contends the adverse claims of Cook and Burton expose it to double liability if it is not allowed to interplead the funds. As the other parties do not oppose State Farm's motion to interplead the disputed funds and discharge it from liability, (doc. 14 at ¶ 4), the motion to interplead and to discharge State Farm, (docs. 7 & 14), is due to be GRANTED.

Recommendation

Accordingly, the undersigned RECOMMENDS:

1. State Farm's motion to interplead the funds and dismiss State Farm be GRANTED;
2. State Farm be DIRECTED to deposit the funds from Policies LF-1947-4763 and LF-2267-9040 into the registry of the Court, in the total amount of $105, 200.78, plus applicable interest up to the date of payment;
3. Upon deposit of the funds, State Farm be DISCHARGED from any further liability with respect to, affecting, or in any way arising out of the insurance policies at issue; and
4. The interpleader defendants be permanently enjoined from instituting or prosecuting any proceeding against State Farm with respect to, affecting, or in any way arising out of the insurance policies at issue.

Notice of Right to Object

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Rule 72(b)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., any party may file specific written objections to this report and recommendation within fourteen (14) days from the date it is filed in the office of the Clerk. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations contained in this report and recommendation within fourteen (14) days from the date it is filed shall bar an aggrieved party from attacking the factual findings on appeal. Written objections shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings and recommendation to which objection is made and the specific basis for objection. A copy of the objections must be served upon all other parties to the action.


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