United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Unum Life Insurance Company of America, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
Donna Brookshire; Bryant Weaver, and Jennifer Weaver, Defendants/Cross-Defendants, and S.W., a minor, Defendant/Counter-Claimant/ Cross-Claimant
ORDER ACTION REQUIRED BY GAL FOR S.W. BY APRIL 15 ACTION REQUIRED BY OTHER PARTIES BY APRIL 29
Kaymani D. West United States Magistrate Judge
This case is before the undersigned because all Defendants are proceeding pro se. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to submit findings and recommendations to the district court. Twice the parties were advised they had until February 16, 2016, to file dispositive motions, see ECF Nos. 61, 78; however, no party has yet filed a motion for summary judgment or similar dispositive motion. Thus, it appears that no party intends to file a dispositive motion in the case, and the court will be required to issue a final judgment on the merits of this interpleader action sua sponte, or, in other words, on its own motion.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) permits this court to enter summary judgment “independent of [a] motion, ” but only “after giving [the parties] notice and a reasonable time to respond . . . .” Under Rule 56(f), this court may “(1) grant summary judgment for a non-movant; (2) grant the motion on grounds not raised by a party; or (3) consider summary judgment on its own after identifying for the parties material facts that may not be genuinely in dispute.” The court has closely reviewed the parties’ filings and it appears Defendant S.W.’s Counterclaim and Crossclaims appropriately frame the issue at the heart of this matter-who receives the insurance proceeds now deposited with the court.
This Order is issued to provide each of the Defendants, including the GAL for Defendant S.W., with the required “notice and a reasonable time to respond” to the undersigned’s intention,  to construe S.W., a minor’s Counterclaim and Crossclaims, ECF No. 34, as a motion for summary judgment so as to permit entry of a report and recommendation on the merits of this interpleader action to the district court. The subject Counterclaim and Crossclaims contain the following allegations indicating Defendant S.W.’s position on the merits of this case:
Upon information and belief Defendant Jennifer Weaver was ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the proper designated beneficiary of one of the ERISA governed life insurance policies at issue. As the Court Ordered designated beneficiary of the One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150, 000.00), this Defendant believes that Co-Defendant Jennifer Weaver has a superior claim to the proceeds per the South Carolina Family Court Order.
With regard to the Fifteen Thousand Dollar ($15, 000.00) policy, this Defendant believes that said policy is subject to division according to the beneficiary designation executed by decedent on November 15, 2014.
ECF No. 34 at 2.
The undersigned hereby provides the parties with the required notice that there appears to be no genuine dispute as to the following facts:
1. Defendant Donna Brookshire is a resident and citizen of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was the girlfriend of the Decedent, Clifford Weaver (“Decedent”).
2. Defendant Bryant Weaver is a resident and citizen of Conway, South Carolina and was the brother of the Decedent.
3. Defendant Jennifer Weaver is a resident and citizen of Alderson, West Virginia and was the ex-wife of the Decedent.
4. Defendant S.W. is a surviving minor child of the Decedent and Jennifer Weaver and currently resides in West Virginia with Jennifer Weaver.
5. Decedent’s former employer, Conbraco Industries, Inc. (“Employer”) established and/or maintained basic group life and supplemental group life insurance coverage with Unum Life Insurance Company of America (“Unum”) for the benefit of its employees as part of an employee welfare benefit plan (“Plan”) governed by 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (“ERISA”). This Plan was funded, at least in part, through Unum’s group life insurance policy number 417111 (the “Policy”). Decedent was a participant in the Plan.
6. Decedent was a covered insured under a basic group policy in the amount of Twenty Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($20, 000.00) and a supplemental group policy in the amount of One-Hundred-Fifty-Thousand and ...