Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gerber Life Insurance Co. v. Yates

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 22, 2019

GERBER LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK YATES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Gerber Life Insurance Company's motion for leave to deposit interpleader funds, for injunction, discharge and dismissal with prejudice and recovery of fees and costs. Doc. 16. Defendants have not filed a response and the time to do so has passed. For the following reasons, the Court will grant plaintiff's motion for leave to deposit interpleader funds, for injunction, discharge and dismissal with prejudice, and recovery of court filing costs, and deny plaintiff's request for attorneys' fees as moot.

         I. Background

         On January 11, 2019, plaintiff filed an interpleader complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 against defendants Patrick Yates, Deborah Hart, Jeannette Stickler, Al Uhle, Corey Uhle, Joseph Uhle, Sean Uhle, Susan Uhle, Lauren Volkerding, and Anthony Bove. Doc. 1. Plaintiff alleges it is an innocent stakeholder with respect to life insurance policy number 09238591 (the “Policy”) in the amount of $15, 000 to insure the life of Ashley Yates (the “Insured”), and is unable to determine who is entitled to the Policy proceeds without incurring the risk of being subject to costs and expenses in defending itself in multiple suits or the possibility of multiple payments for the amount due. Plaintiff requests the Court to: (1) issue an order directing it to deposit into the registry of the Court the disputed Policy proceeds of $15, 000, plus interest and less $1500 in attorneys' fees and costs; (2) dismiss plaintiff from this action with prejudice; and (3) issue a permanent injunction enjoining defendants and any other potential claimant from filing legal action against it in relation to the Policy. On October 18, 2019, plaintiff withdrew its request for attorneys' fees, but maintained its request for costs in the amount of $400 for reimbursement of the court filing fee. Doc. 38.

         Plaintiff alleges it issued the Policy on September 10, 1999. Plaintiff states the Insured died on October 31, 2017 and it attached the death certificate to the interpleader complaint. Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff further states the Insured's maternal aunt, Deborah Hart, who was appointed as the Insured's legal guardian, submitted a claim under the Policy on September 2, 2018. Doc. 1-2. A competing claim was submitted on November 14, 2018 by the Insured's father, Patrick Yates. Doc. 1-2. The Insured's mother predeceased the Insured. Doc. 1 at 4.

         On August 30, 2019, the Court ordered the Clerk of the Court to enter default against defendants Jeannette Stickler, Al Uhle, Corey Uhle, Joseph Uhle, Sean Uhle, Susan Uhle, Lauren Volkerding, and Anthony Bove pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) for failure to file a timely answer or other response to the interpleader complaint following service of summons and complaint. Doc. 30. The only remaining defendants are Deborah Hart and Patrick Yates, who each filed an answer.

         On September 24, 2019, this Court issued an Order directing plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (“Order to Show Cause”). Doc. 34. The Order cited to plaintiff's complaint, which alleges: (1) the Policy lists the parents of the Insured as beneficiaries; (2) the Insured's mother predeceased the Insured; and (3) the Insured's father is alive. As a result of these allegations and because a copy of the Policy was not attached to the pleadings, the Court found it was “not evident that plaintiff had a good faith basis for including as adverse claimants defendants Jeannette Stickler, Al Uhle, Corey Uhle, Joseph Uhle, Sean Uhle, Susan Uhle, Lauren Volkerding, and Anthony Bove in this interpleader action, as they are not the parents of the deceased Insured and plaintiff states that no other person, other than the parents, was designated as a beneficiary.” Id. at 4-5. The Order advised that if the defendants, other than Ms. Hart and Mr. Yates, did not have colorable claims against the proceeds of the Policy, minimal diversity between the defendants would not exist and this Court would not have subject matter jurisdiction over this action. Id. at 3-4.

         On October 8, 2019, plaintiff filed a response to the Order to Show Cause. Doc. 35. Plaintiff states it added defendants Jeannette Stickler, Al Uhle, Corey Uhle, Joseph Uhle, Sean Uhle, Susan Uhle, Lauren Volkerding, and Anthony Bove in this interpleader action because they are relatives of the Insured who might have been entitled to the Policy proceeds. Plaintiff states it was “informed during the claims process that Yates had failed to provide consistent care, custody or support for the Insured since birth, and that Hart was the Insured's legal guardian.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff cites to Missouri Revised Statues § 211.447, which provides that evidence of a parent's absence in a child's life may constitute grounds for termination of parental rights. Plaintiff also pointed to the language of the Policy, which states:

Beneficiary: The beneficiary named in the application or in the last beneficiary designation filed with us will receive the proceeds. If two or more people are named beneficiaries, the proceeds will be paid to the person or persons who are alive when the benefit becomes payable. If more than one beneficiary is alive, the proceeds will be shared equally, unless otherwise specified. If no beneficiary survives the Insured, the proceeds will be payable to the Insured's estate.

Doc. 35-2 at 5 (emphasis added). Plaintiff explains that if Mr. Yates is found not to be a rightful beneficiary, then the Policy proceeds would be paid to the Insured's estate, which could have included her relatives in an intestate distribution.

         II. Discussion

         A. Deposit of Interpleader Funds

         “Interpleader is a procedural device that allows a party holding money or property, concededly belonging to another, to join in a single suit two or more parties asserting mutually exclusive claims to the fund. In this way the stakeholder is freed from the threat of multiple liability.” Acuity v. Rex, LLC, 296 F.Supp.3d 1105, 1107 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 30, 2017) (citing Gaines v. Sunray Oil Co., 539 F.2d 1136, 1141 (8th Cir. 1976)), aff'd, 929 F.3d 995 (8th Cir. 2019). An interpleader action may be brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 (statutory interpleader) or Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (rule interpleader). Id. “The same principles apply to both statutory and Rule 22 interpleader, and the only differences between the two involve procedural requirements such as jurisdiction, venue, service of process, and amount in controversy.” Id. (citing Wittry v. Nw. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 727 F.Supp. 498, 500 (D. Minn. Nov. 14, 1989)).

         Rule 67 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs plaintiff's request to deposit funds into the registry of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.