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Trustmark Insurance Co. v. White

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

September 10, 2019

TRUSTMARK INSURANCE COMPANY, etc., Plaintiff,
v.
HARRIET I. WHITE, an individual, and ALLAN E. MINCEY, an individual, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1]

          JOEL B. TOOMEY United States Magistrate Judge.

         THIS CAUSE, an interpleader action, is before the Court pursuant to its May 29, 2019 Order (Doc. 29) and its July 26, 2019 Order to Show Cause (Doc. 30). For the reasons set forth herein, the undersigned respectfully RECOMMENDS that:

1. Plaintiff be DISMISSED with prejudice from this action and DISCHARGED from any further liability regarding the subject insurance policy;
2. Defendants be ENJOINED from instituting and/or prosecuting in any state or federal court any other actions against Plaintiff regarding the subject insurance policy;
3. The Clerk of Court be directed to enter DEFAULT and a DEFAULT JUDGMENT against Defendant Allan E. Mincey that serves to terminate his interest, if any, in the subject insurance policy and interpleaded funds; and
4. The Clerk of Court be further directed to enter FINAL JUDGMENT in favor of Defendant Harriet I. White, pay the funds deposited into the Court's registry, along with any interest, to Ms. White, and close the file.

         I. Background

         Prior to suit, Defendant Allan E. Mincey, the contingent beneficiary of his mother Ruby Mincey's life insurance policy worth approximately $6, 800 (“Policy”), asserted a claim to the policy proceeds. (Doc. 1 at 2-3.) Because Defendant Harriet I. White is the named primary beneficiary of the Policy, Plaintiff filed this interpleader action to resolve the conflicting claims to the subject funds. (Id.) Mr. Mincey appeared pro se and asserted a claim. (Doc. 20.) Ms. White initially failed to appear and a default was entered against her. (Doc. 15.) However, she later appeared pro se, moved to set aside the default, and asserted her claim to the funds. (Doc. 22.) The default against Ms. White was then set aside. (Doc. 26.)

         In the meantime, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting, among other things, that it be dismissed from this action, discharged from all liability regarding the Policy, and that Defendants be enjoined from pursuing additional actions against it regarding the Policy. (Doc. 18.) Although Plaintiff initially also requested attorneys' fees and costs, it later abandoned that request.[2] (See Docs. 18 & 21.) Plaintiff's motion was denied without prejudice to Plaintiff filing a new motion when directed to do so by the Court. (Doc. 27.) Plaintiff was also directed to file the Policy documents and serve them on Defendants because it was not clear that Defendants had access to them. (Id.) Plaintiff did so on April 30, 2019. (Doc. 28.)

         The crux of Mr. Mincey's claim, which was made before the Policy documents were served on him by Plaintiff, was that he believed Ms. White made herself the primary beneficiary of the Policy without Ms. Mincey's knowledge, and that Ms. White previously “cashed out” a portion of the Policy. (See Doc. 20 at 1, 9-11; Doc. 28-1 at 23.) However, as noted in the Court's May 29, 2019 Order, the Policy documents appear to directly contradict Mr. Mincey's assertions. (Doc. 29.) For example, Ms. Mincey signed a document making Ms. White the primary beneficiary and making Mr. Mincey only the contingent beneficiary. (Doc. 28-1 at 51.) Thus, it appears that the beneficiary change was made with Ms. Mincey's knowledge. Additionally, the relatively low value of the $10, 000 Policy appears to be a result of Ms. Mincey taking out loans from the Policy, and not the result of Ms. White cashing out a portion of the Policy. (See Doc. 8 at 2; Doc. 28-1 at 28.)

         The Court explained the above to Mr. Mincey, and directed him to review the Policy documents and file a notice on or before June 19, 2019 stating whether he intended to pursue his claim. (Doc. 29.) He was cautioned that “[f]ailure to file the required notice may result in the subject funds being distributed to Ms. White . . . .” (Id. at 3.) Mr. Mincey failed to file the required notice. The Court then issued an Order to Show Cause directing Mr. Mincey to “show cause in writing why his claim to the funds at issue should not be dismissed pursuant to Local Rule 3.10, and/or why a default and default judgment should not be entered against him, for failure to prosecute his claim.” (Doc. 30.) He was again cautioned that “[f]ailure to respond to this Order will likely result in the subject funds being distributed to Ms. White . . . .”[3](Id. at 2.) To date, Mr. Mincey has not responded to the Order to Show Cause or taken any further action in this case.

         II. Analysis

         The undersigned recommends that Plaintiff is entitled to the relief it previously requested (i.e., dismissal with prejudice, discharge from liability, and an injunction).[4]Additionally, the undersigned recommends that default and a default judgment be entered against Mr. Mincey because he has failed to prosecute his claim. Finally, the undersigned recommends that final judgment be entered in favor of Ms. White, and that all funds in the Court's registry, including any interest, be distributed to her.

         A. Subject ...


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