United States District Court, D. Maryland
Fargo Bank, N.A., Plaintiff, represented by Douglas B. Riley,
Treanor Pope and Hughes, P.A..
Eastham, Plaintiff, represented by Jonathan Biran, Biran
Eastham, Defendant, Pro Se.
Barbara Abramson, Defendant, Pro Se.
Farm Investment Management Corporation, Defendant,
represented by Scott Michael Trager, Semmes Bowen and Semmes
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.
pending and ready for resolution in this interpleader action
is a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Mary
Eastham. (ECF No. 32). The court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be granted.
complete factual and procedural history of this action may be
found in a prior memorandum opinion. ( See ECF No.
30, at 1-5). In the prior opinion and accompanying order, the
undersigned directed Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells
Fargo") to deposit with the clerk a check in the amount
of $1, 033, 277.13 (the "disputed funds"), at which
point Wells Fargo would be discharged from further liability
and dismissed. (ECF No. 31 Â¶Â¶ 2, 5). The remaining parties
were realigned: Ms. Eastham is now the plaintiff and Todd
Eastham, the Eastham Family Trust, Barbara Abramson, and
State Farm Investment Management Corporation ("State
Farm") are now defendants. ( Id. Â¶ 7). On May
19, 2016, the clerk received a check from Wells Fargo for the
aforementioned amount and deposited the disputed funds into
the registry of this court. ( See ECF No. 33).
19, Ms. Eastham filed the pending motion requesting that the
court release the deposited funds to her. According to Ms.
Eastham, Ms. Abramson and State Farm consent to the relief
requested. Defendants Todd Eastham and the Eastham Family
Trust have defaulted. (ECF No. 31 Â¶ 8). No other party has
filed a response to the pending motion, and the time to do so
12(c) provides: "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but
early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for
judgment on the pleadings."
The standard for resolving a motion pursuant to Rule 12(c)
depends on the nature of the relief being sought.... In some
situations, the standard for a Rule 12(c) motion on the
pleadings is identical to the standard for summary judgment
motions. 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure Â§ 1369 ("Both the summary judgment
procedure and the motion for judgment on the pleadings are
concerned with the substance of the parties' claims and
defenses and are directed towards a final judgment on the
merits."). [This] rubric is... appropriate where the
moving party seeks affirmative relief on the basis of the
pleadings and not merely a dismissal of claims brought
The key distinction between a Rule 12(c) motion and a Rule 56
motion is that the court may not consider facts outside the
pleadings under Rule 12(c). Motions on the pleadings can be
used to obtain declaratory judgments where the parties'
only dispute is the proper interpretation of contractual
Geoghegan v. Grant, No. DKC-10-1137, 2011 WL 673779,
at *3 (D.Md. Feb. 17, 2011) (citations omitted); see also
CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd. v. Camden Mgmt. Servs., LLC, No.
WMN-14-180, 2014 WL 5510914 (D.Md. Oct. 30, 2014) (granting a
plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings). Here,
Ms. Eastham has not submitted any evidence to support her
claim to the disputed funds, instead relying on factual
assertions in the pleadings themselves. As such, her motion
will be treated as a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
and she is entitled to judgment if no other pleading contests
her claim to the disputed funds. See
Geoghegan, 2011 WL 673779, at *5 (noting that the
"the standard is the same whether construed as a motion
for judgment on the pleadings or a motion for summary
judgment, namely whether there are any genuine disputes of
material fact so that the case can be decided as a matter of
no other pleading contests the fact that Ms. Eastham is
entitled to the disputed funds. Ms. Eastham's answer
asserts that it is undisputed that only she has an interest
in the disputed funds. (ECF No. 24 at 2). Ms. Abramson
disclaims any interest in the disputed funds in her answer.
(ECF No. 20, at 1). Similarly, State Farm asserts in its
answer that it has not made any claim to the disputed funds
and disclaims any interest in doing so. (ECF No. 22 Â¶ 33). As
previously mentioned, default has been entered against Mr.
Eastham and the Eastham Family Trust, the two other remaining
parties. (ECF No. 31 Â¶ 8). Wells Fargo never asserted an
interest in the disputed funds. (ECF No. 1 Â¶ 36). Throughout
this litigation, no party other than Ms. ...