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Sims v. Davita Accountable Care Solutions, LLC

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

December 19, 2017

LEE SIMS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Renee Nicole Kelley Plaintiff,
v.
DAVITA ACCOUNTABLE CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC d/b/a DaVita Sylacauga Dialysis Center, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KARON OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Several motions are before the court concerning who should receive the proceeds of the settlement reached in this wrongful death case. But first some history. Plaintiff, the estate of Renee Nicole Kelley, filed suit against DaVita Accountable Care Solutions, alleging that Defendant was responsible for Mrs. Kelley's wrongful death. (Doc. 1-1). At the time Plaintiff brought the suit, Mrs. Kelley's husband, Daniel Bryan Kelley, was the Personal Representative of her estate. In October 2016, Mr. Kelley passed away, and the probate court substituted Lee Sims as the Personal Representative of Mrs. Kelley's estate; this court followed suit. (Doc. 23). On August 9, 2017, the parties reached a confidential settlement agreement. (Doc. 28 at 2).

         The motions now before the court are Plaintiff's “Motion for Determination of Settlement Disbursement, ” (doc. 28); non-party Shannon Ray Kelley's “Motion to be Included as Beneficiary of Settlement Disbursement, ” (doc. 37); and non-party Danielle Beasley's “Motion Re Distribution of Wrongful Death Recovery, ” (doc. 38). Plaintiff seeks to have this court declare the proper beneficiary or beneficiaries of the settlement agreement in this case. (Doc. 28). Mr. Sims identified five potential beneficiaries of the settlement agreement:

Linda Wilcoxon, mother of Renee Kelley
Carl Lattimer, [1] father of Renee Kelley
Danielle Beasley, daughter of Bryan Kelley and stepdaughter of Renee Kelley
Marvin Kelley, father of Bryan Kelley
Wanda Kelley, mother of Bryan Kelley

(Doc. 28 at 2). The court notified each potential beneficiary of the existence of the settlement agreement and the motion for determination of the settlement disbursement. (Doc. 29).

         After the court notified the potential beneficiaries, Shannon Ray Kelley, the Personal Representative of Mr. Kelley's estate, filed a “Motion to be Included as Beneficiary of Settlement Disbursement, ” (doc. 37), and Mrs. Beasley filed a “Motion Re Distribution of Wrongful Death Recovery, ” (doc. 38). Each seeks to have this court declare that Mr. Kelley's estate is one of the proper beneficiaries of the settlement disbursement. (Docs. 37, 38). In addition, Mrs. Kelley's parents responded, contending that under Alabama law, they are the sole beneficiaries of the settlement proceeds. (Doc. 36).

         The court DENIES Shannon Ray Kelley's and Mrs. Beasley's motions, GRANTS Plaintiff's motion, and ORDERS Plaintiff's Personal Representative to distribute the settlement proceeds to Mrs. Kelley's parents, Linda Wilcoxon and Carl Lattimer.

         Alabama's wrongful death statute provides that “[t]he damages recovered are not subject to the payment of the debts or liabilities of the testator or intestate, but must be distributed according to the statute of distributions.” Ala. Code § 6-5-410(c). When Mrs. Kelley died, her spouse and her parents survived her, but she had no issue, i.e., no children. The statute of distributions provides that if a spouse survives the decedent, The intestate share of the surviving spouse is as follows:

(1) If there is no surviving issue or parent of the decedent, the entire intestate estate; [and]
(2) If there is no surviving issue but the decedent is survived by a parent or parents, the first $100, 000.00 in value, plus one-half of the balance ...

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