United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
interpleader action. Plaintiff Manufacturers & Traders
Trust Company ("M&T") brings suit against
Defendants Del Conca USA, Inc. ("Del Conca") and
Nathaniel L. Akers. requesting that the Court authorize
M&T to deposit $302, 662.69 in wired funds
("'the Funds") into the Registry of the Court,
dismiss M&T from the action, discharge M&T from
further liability relating to the Funds, and award M&T
the attorneys' fees and costs associated with this case.
ECF No. 1. Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for
Entry of an Order of Interpleader and Other Relief. ECF No.
16. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Plaintiffs Motion for
Entry of Interpleader is granted, in part. and denied, in
part. Once the Funds have been deposited with the Registry of
the Court. Plaintiff M&T shall be dismissed, discharged
from liability, and awarded $9, 092.60 in attorneys' fees
and costs from the deposited funds. The remaining parties
shall be realigned with Del Conca as Plaintiff and Nathaniel
Akers as Defendant.
to the Complaint. Plaintiff M&T is a New York state
chartered bank maintaining an office in Baltimore, Maryland.
ECF No. 1 ¶ 1. Defendant Del Conca is a corporation
organized under the laws of Tennessee and maintains an office
in Loudon. Tennessee. Id, ¶ 2. Nathaniel Akers
is an individual who resides and is domiciled in Capitol 11
eights. Maryland. Id, ¶ 3. Akers does or has
done business under the registered trade name Greenland
Enterprises. Id, M&T currently holds $302,
662.69 in wired funds, and has filed this interpleader action
to determine which of the two Defendants is entitled to the
about February 5. 2016. Akers opened a business checking
account with M&T. ECF No. 1 ¶ 10: see ECF
No. 16-2 ¶ 4. On or about September 6. 2016. Del Conca
initiated a wire transfer of $302, 662.69 from an account Del
Conca maintained with Banca Monte Del Paschi Di Siena
("BMPS") to an account Akers held at M&T. ECF
No. 1 ¶¶ 11-13. Shortly after the Funds were
transferred and credited to the M&T account. Del Conca
contacted M&T. asserting that the transfer was procured
by fraud, and requesting that M&T return the Funds to the
BMPS account. Id, *i 14. In response. M&T did
not return the Funds, but instead froze the account.
Id, ¶ 1 5. M&T made repeated efforts to
contact Akers. its customer, to determine whether Akers would
contest Del Conca"s claim to the Funds or allow M&T
to return the Funds to Del Conca. but M&T was
unsuccessful in reaching him. Id, ¶ 18. M&T
maintains that it is contractually and legally obligated to
retain the Funds until the dispute is resolved, id,
¶¶ 16. 19.
initiated this interpleader action against Del Conca and
Akers on October 5, 2016. ECF No. 1." Through efforts to
serve Akers personally. M&T discovered that Akers was
homeless. See ECF No. 6-1 at
2-4." M&T also learned that the personal
address and business address on file for Akers were actually
two separate churches where Akers periodically resided.
See Id, M&T's private process server was
unable to locate Akers despite several attempts. Id,
M&T filed a Motion for Alternative Service as to
Defendant Akers. ECF No. 6. which the Court granted on
December 14. 2016. ECF No. 8. M&T subsequently served
Akers by first class U.S. mail, ECF No. 15 ¶ 4, and
according to M&T, on or about January 6. 2017. Akers
called Plaintiffs counsel, confirming that he had received
the summons, and inquiring about the matter. id,
instant Complaint. M&T requests that the Court restrain
and enjoin the Defendants from instituting any action against
M&T for recovery of the Funds, authorize M&T to
deposit the Funds into the Registry of the Court, dismiss
M&T from suit and discharge M&T from any further
liability with respect to the Funds, award M&T the
attorneys" fees and costs associated with this action,
and require the Defendants to interplead as to the Funds.
Defendant Del Conea has answered the Complaint, ECF No. 11.
Akers was served on January 3. 2017. and an answer was due by
January 24. 2017. ECF No. 17. Akers has not answered the
Complaint or entered an appearance in this matter. Del Conca
has now moved for Default Judgment against Akers. ECF No. 17.
M&T opposes Default Judgment against Akers as premature.
ECF No. 19 at 2. The time for Akers to respond has expired,
and the Clerk shall be directed to enter default against
Akers. However, default judgment against Akers cannot be
resolved in the current posture, and Del Conea's Motion
for Default Judgment will therefore be addressed in
forthcoming proceedings. See Wells Forgo Bonk. N.A. v.
Eastham, No. CV DKC 1 6-0386. 2016 WE 2625281. at *5 (D.
Md. May 9. 2016) (noting that interpleader defendant's
motion for default against other defendant could not "be
resolved in the present posture." and therefore
realigning the remaining parties as adversaries and directing
further proceedings): Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v.
White, No. 1:16-CV-1()94. 2017 WL 2834459. at *3 (M.D.
Pa. June 29. 2017) (denying interpleader plaintiffs motion
for default judgment against one defendant, noting that
"the Court finds that such relief is more appropriately
sought in the second stage of this proceeding .
STANDARD OF REVIEW
is a procedural device that allows a disinterested
stakeholder to bring a single action joining two or more
adverse claimants to a single fund." Security Ins.
Co. of Hartford v. Arcade Textiles. Inc, 40 F.
App"x 767. 769 (4th Cir. 2002). The device is designed
"to protect the stakeholder from multiple, inconsistent
judgments and to relieve it of the obligation of determining
which claimant is entitled to the fund." Id, In
interpleader claims, the interpleader plaintiff typically
will "admit liability, deposit the fund with the court,
and be permitted to withdraw from the proceedings."
Wells Fargo Bank. N.A. v. Eastham, No. CV DKC
16-0386. 2016 WL 2625281. at *3 (D. Md. May 9. 2016) (citing
CMFG Life Ins. Co. v. Schell, No. G.III-13-3032.
2014 WL 7365802. at *2(D. Md. Dec. 22. 2014)).
U.S.C. § 1335(a) "grants the district courts
original jurisdiction over interpleader claims involving at
least $500.00 in funds or property and at least two claimants
of diverse citizenship." Hells Fargo Bank. N.A. v.
Eastham, No. CV DKC 16-0386. 2016 WL 2625281. at *3 (D.
Md. May 9. 2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1335(a)). 28 U.S.C.
§ 2361 provides that in an interpleader action under
[A] district court may issue its process for all claimants
and enter its order restraining them from instituting or
prosecuting any proceeding in any State or United States
court affecting the properly . . . involved in the
interpleader action until further order of the court. . . .
Such district court shall hear and determine the case, and
may discharge the plaintiff from further liability, make the
injunction permanent, and make all appropriate orders to
enforce its judgment.
28 U.S.C. § 2361.
interpleader action generally proceeds in two stages.
Eastham, 2016 WL 2625281. at *2 (D. Md. May 9, 2016)
(citing 7 Charles A. ...