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 No. 4
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
interpleader action concerns the disbursement of proceeds
from a $170, 000 life insurance policy (“the
Policy”) issued by Unum Life Insurance Company of
America (“Unum”) to the decedent Clifford Weaver
and governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et
seq. The Policy designated Cross-Defendant Donna
Brookshire, Cross-Defendant Bryant Weaver, and Cross-Claimant
as the primary beneficiaries with respective interests of
50%, 25%, and 25%. ECF No. 1-2. Unum filed this case seeking
interpleader relief pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132 and
Federal Rule of Procedure 22. See ECF No. 1. Unum
filed a motion seeking (1) authorization to deposit the
Policy proceeds into the Court’s registry, (2) an award
of attorney’s fees in the amount of $2, 464.13, and (3)
dismissal with prejudice from this action. See ECF
No. 22. The Court granted Unum’s motion in its
entirety,  and Unum then deposited the Policy
proceeds into the Court’s registry. See ECF
Nos. 72, 75, 91, & 94. Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge
issued an order giving the parties notice that she would be
considering summary judgment on her own initiative and making
a report and recommendation to this Court regarding the
propriety of summary judgment. See ECF No. 97;
see generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f).
matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation (R & R) issued by United States Magistrate
Judge Kaymani D. West and made in accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 73.02 for the District of
South Carolina. See R & R, ECF No. 104.
Considering summary judgment on her own initiative, the
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court award
Cross-Defendant Donna Brookshire 50% of the Policy, award
Cross-Defendant Bryant Weaver 25% of the Policy, and award
Cross-Claimant S.W. 25% of the Policy. R & R at 9-10, 12.
The Magistrate Judge further recommends that the Court,
before distributing the Policy proceeds, order
Cross-Defendant Jennifer Weaver to establish a special needs
trust naming Cross-Claimant S.W. as the sole beneficiary and
requiring S.W.’s share of the Policy proceeds be used
to fund the trust. Id. at 10-12. No parties have
filed objections to the R & R.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those
portions of the R & R to which specific objections are
made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit
the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
noted above, no party has objected to the R & R. In the
absence of objections to the R & R, the Court is not
required to give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate
Judge’s recommendations. See Camby v. Davis,
718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). The Court reviews only for
clear error in the absence of an objection. See Diamond
v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005) (stating that “in the absence of a
timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct de
novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation’” (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
72 advisory committee’s note)).
thorough review of the record in this case, the Court finds
no clear error and therefore adopts and incorporates by
reference the Magistrate Judge’s R & R.
See ECF No. 104. However, the Court modifies the R
& R to reflect that the distribution of the Policy
proceeds is subject to the Court’s previous order
awarding Unum attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,
464.13. See ECF No. 91.
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f), the Court
sua sponte GRANTS summary judgment in favor of
Cross-Defendant Donna Brookshire, Cross-Defendant Bryant
Weaver, and Cross-Claimant S.W. The Court hereby ORDERS the
Court finds a special needs trust is appropriate for S.W. and
therefore ORDERS the Guardian ad Litem (Candy Kern-Fuller) to
assist Cross-Defendant Jennifer Weaver (S.W.’s mother)
in the establishment of a special needs trust that names S.W.
as the sole beneficiary and uses S.W.’s share of the
Policy proceeds to fund the trust. Ms. Kern-Fuller shall
contact an attorney experienced with creating special needs
trusts and file a report with the Court within thirty
days of the date of filing of this Order, at which time
she shall also provide the Court a statement of the fees
and/or costs associated with her own time in this case and a
statement of the fees and/or costs associated with the
establishment of a special needs trust for S.W. Ms. Kern-Fuller
shall further advise the Court as to any particular procedure
that may be necessary to establish such a trust, such as
whether the Policy proceeds should be disbursed to her trust
account or whether they should be directly disbursed to
S.W.’s special needs trust.
Once the Court receives adequate proof that Ms. Weaver and
the Guardian ad Litem can establish a special needs trust for
S.W., the Clerk shall first PAY Unum attorney’s fees in
the amount of $2, 464.13 and then DISTRIBUTE the remaining
Policy proceeds (and accrued interest) as follows: 50% to
Cross-Defendant Donna Brookshire, 25% to Cross-Defendant
Bryant Weaver, and 25% to Cross-Claimant S.W. S.W.’s
portion of the Policy proceeds is subject to the fees and/or
costs incurred by the Guardian ad Litem and the fees and/or
costs associated with the establishment of the special needs
 S.W. is a minor represented by a
guardian ad litem, Candy Kern-Fuller. See ECF Nos.
27 & 34.
 The Court stated in its order that
“Unum shall be AWARDED attorney’s fees in the
amount of $2, 464.13, which is to be deducted from the Stake
and paid to Unum when the final judgment in this ...