United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. HODGES, Magistrate Judge.
interpleader action comes before the court on the motion of
Jean Bankett ("Bankett") for judgment on the
pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Bankett claims she
is entitled to the insurance benefits due under a policy of
life insurance, which is in the name of her deceased son,
Rodney M. Moore ("Decedent"). For the reasons that
follow, the undersigned recommends that Bankett's motion
be granted in part and denied in part.
Factual and Procedural Background
court made findings of facts by prior order dated January 11,
2016 ("Order") [ECF No. 28], which are repeated
herein for reference. Before he died on June 11, 2015,
Decedent was employed by The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
("Employer"). Employer maintained group life
insurance coverage with Companion Life Insurance Company
("Companion") for the benefit of its employees as
part of an employee welfare benefit plan ("Plan")
governed by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of
1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. Â§ 1001, et seq.
On January 10, 2013, Decedent enrolled in the Plan's
basic group term life and accidental death and dismemberment
insurance policy (Policy Number XXX-XX-XXXXX-XXX) ("the
Policy") for $60, 000, and designated Bankett as the
sole beneficiary under the Policy. [ECF No. 1-1]. He made no
further changes to his beneficiary designation.
Decedent's death, Bankett submitted a Group Life
Insurance Claim Form dated June 15, 2015, to Companion,
requesting the Policy proceeds be distributed to her. [ECF
No. 1-6]. Bankett assigned the following interests in the
Policy proceeds to pay for her son's funeral expenses:
(1) $8, 533.87 assignment on June 15, 2015, to defendant
American Funeral Financial, LLC ("American
Funeral") [ECF No. 1-3];
(2) $10, 180.64 assignment on June 19, 2015, to defendant
American Capital Funding, LLC ("American
Capital") [ECF No. 1-4].
(3) $3, 757.73 assignment on June 19, 2015, to defendant C&J
Financial, LLC ("C&J") [ECF No. 1-5].
also received a letter from defendant Michelle M. McCreary
("McCreary") dated July 8, 2015, indicating that it
was her understanding that she was entitled to 50% of the
Policy proceeds under Arizona community property laws because
she had married the Decedent on December 1, 2014, six months
before his death. [ECF No. 1-7]. The Policy terms incorporate
the laws of the state in which the policy is delivered. [ECF
No. 1-8]. The Policy indicates it was delivered in the state
of Arizona, where Decedent resided from the time he was
covered under the Policy until his death. Id.
his death, the Policy proceeds became subject to
distribution. Companion filed this interpleader action
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 22 and 67 and Local Civ. Rules 67.01
(D.S.C.), asserting it was not able to determine each
defendant's portion of the Policy proceeds, if any. On
December 1, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion to deposit the
Policy proceeds into the court's registry, for
attorney's fees, and to be dismissed from the case. [ECF
No. 26]. The defendants did not respond to the motion. The
court granted the motion by Order dated January 11, 2016,
granting Companion's attorney's fees and costs of $3,
501.88, accepting the net Policy proceeds of $56, 498.12 into
the court's registry, and dismissing Companion. [ECF No.
28]. The Order noted: "Each Defendant and their agents,
attorneys, representatives, assigns, and all other persons
claiming at any time, are perpetually enjoined and restricted
from initiating or pursuing any proceeding in this or any
other court of law or equity against Plaintiff on account of
the Policy." Id. at 7.
Standard on Judgment on the Pleadings
pleadings are closed, a party may move for judgment on the
pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). "A motion for judgment on
the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is assessed under the same
standards as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)."
Occupy Columbia v. Haley,738 F.3d 107, 115 (4th
Cir. 2013). To withstand a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, a complaint must contain facts sufficient to
"state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570, (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). Mere "labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
"In resolving a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule
12(c), a district court may... consider a written
instrument' attached as an exhibit to a pleading."