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Primerica Life Insurance Co. v. Braswell

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

November 22, 2017

PRIMERICA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation Plaintiff,
v.
ELIZABETH M. BRASWELL, KIMBERLY F. HAMILTON, CHERYL L. LARSON, LARRY A. MYERS, JR., DENNIS S. MYERS, JANINE A. MYERS and LARRY A. MYERS, JR. Defendants.

          ORDER

          PHILIP R. LAMMENS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         In this case, Plaintiff, Primerica Life Insurance Co. (“Primerica”), has filed a complaint for Interpleader against Defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 22 and 28 U.S.C. § 1335. The underlying dispute arises from competing claims presented to Primerica regarding a life insurance policy for $50, 000 on the life of decedent Larry A. Myers. The competing claimants include decedent's widow, Janine A. Myers, and several adult children of decedent. There are currently a number of motions pending in the case, including Primerica's motion to dismiss Defendant Janine Myers' counterclaim (Doc. 30), and Janine Myers' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 48). As those motions deal directly with the merits of this case, they are taken under advisement and will be addressed by the Court when ripe and in due course.

         Meanwhile, the Court will address several other pending matters in this litigation.

         I. Background

         Primerica filed this action for Interpleader as a disinterested stakeholder pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 as a result of several competing claims presented to it by Defendants. The pertinent background facts are as follows.

         On April 14, 2017, decedent Larry A. Myers died in Marion County, Florida. (Doc. 1, ¶ 18). At the time of his death, he held life insurance policy number xx-xxxx0108 with Primerica in the amount of $50, 000.

         As alleged in the Complaint, decedent initially applied for the policy in June, 1987 with Plaintiff's predecessor, Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company. At that time, decedent requested coverage on his life in the amount of $50, 000, a spouse rider covering his then wife Gloria in the amount of $20, 000, and child riders in the amount of $5, 000 for children Kimberly Myers, Denise Myers, Cheryl Basserman, and Elizabeth Basserman. (Doc. 1, ¶ 14). The policy was issued on or about July 3, 1987. (Doc. 1, ¶ 15).

         In December 2001, decedent and his then wife Gloria Myers divorced and entered into a Martial Settlement Agreement (Doc. 1, p. 44). The terms of that agreement required each spouse to maintain life insurance policies for the benefit of the children, who were to be named as “irrevocable beneficiaries” and the policies were to remain in effect for the life of each party. (Doc. 1, p. 46-47). In Paragraph 10, the agreement provided that “Husband shall maintain the life insurance family policy with CNA Insurance, policy number 3417067, insuring himself in the amount of $50, 000 and insuring the Wife and children for $5, 000.” The children were to be named irrevocable beneficiaries of the policies, which were to remain in effect for the life of each party. (Doc. 1, p. 46-47).

         Decedent married Janine Myers in 2008. On July 8, 2015, decedent completed a Primerica Coverage Election Form and deleted the spouse rider coverage from the policy. Decedent also changed his beneficiary, designating Janine Myers, his wife, as the primary beneficiary of the policy. (Doc. 1, ¶ 16).

         Decedent died on April 17, 2017. His widow, Defendant Janine Myers has presented a claim for the policy benefits to Plaintiff Primerica on the basis of her designation as primary beneficiary. Decedents' children, Elizabeth, Kimberly, and Cheryl have also made a claim for the policy benefit through their attorney. (Doc. 1, ¶ 20). The children assert that pursuant to the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement, they are entitled to the policy benefit. (Doc. 1, ¶ 20). Meanwhile, Larry A. Myers, Jr. and Dennis Myers claim that they are beneficiaries and entitled to the policy benefit because they are the deceased's biological children. (Doc. 29, p. 2). As to the discrepancy between the policy identified in the Marital Settlement Agreement and Final Judgment and the Primerica policy in place at decedents' death, it is apparently the children's position that the wrong insurance company name and policy number was included through a clerical error. (Doc. 51-1).

         Indeed, recently decedent's former wife, Gloria Myers sought relief in state court, seeking a determination that a clerical error was included in the Final Judgment regarding her and decedent's divorce. (Doc. 51-1). The state court, however, declined to address that issue, citing the pendency of this action in federal court and the fact that Primerica was not a party to the state court action. The state court action was stayed pending the outcome of this litigation. (Doc. 51-1).

         Meanwhile, the Court notes that soon after this action commenced, Defendant Janine Myers filed a counterclaim for breach of contract against Plaintiff Primerica, and cross-claims against decedent's adult children for tortious interference with a business contract. (Doc. 14).

         Defendant Janine Myers also moved for sanctions against Plaintiff pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b). (Doc. 19). Recently, however, Defendant Myers withdrew that motion seeking sanctions, but not until Primerica had responded (Doc. 29), and after the motion had been pending over two months. (Doc. 52). Currently pending are Plaintiff's motion to dismiss Defendant Myers' counterclaim (Doc. 58), Plaintiff's motion to interplead the policy benefit into the Court's registry, for dismissal, and for its attorney's fees (Doc. 36), and Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 48), which is not yet ripe.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for ...


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