United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending and ready for resolution in this statutory
interpleader action are renewed motions for entry of default
(ECF No. 81) and for discharge, injunction, and
attorneys' fees and costs (ECF No. 82) filed by Mutual of
America Life Insurance Company (“Mutual of
America” or “Mutual”). The court now rules,
no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the
following reasons, the motions will be granted.
Pigott (“Decedent”) was the contract holder of an
Individual Retirement Annuity (“IRA”) and two
Flexible Premium Annuity (“FPA”) contracts issued
by Mutual of America. Under these contracts, if an annuitant
dies before the commencement of annuity payments, the value
of the contracts becomes payable to the named beneficiaries.
(ECF Nos. 1-3; 1-4; 1-5).
died on May 29, 2015. (ECF No. 1-15, at 4). At the time of
her death, Decedent had not yet elected to receive annuity
payments. Accordingly, the value of the three contracts
became payable to the named beneficiaries. (ECF No. 1 ¶
20). According to the most recent beneficiary designation on
file, dated April 14, 2015, the Decedent listed Defendants
Nadine Smith, Patricia Doxey, and Estate of Verneda R. Pigott
(the “Estate”) as primary beneficiaries under all
three contracts in shares of 37%, 24%, and 39%
respectively. (ECF No. 1-6). The beneficiary
designations were made by Defendant Craig Seymour, as
guardian for Decedent, who was appointed guardian of the
property of Decedent by order of the Circuit Court for
Montgomery County, Maryland on June 20, 2013. (ECF Nos. 1-6;
notification of Decedent's death, Mutual of America sent
letters to Defendants Smith, Doxey, and the Estate, advising
them of their respective benefits under the contracts. (ECF
No. 1-8). Thereafter, Mutual received letters from Defendant
Kim St. Amant, as personal representative of the Estate,
claiming that the April 14, 2015 beneficiary designation is
invalid because Defendant Seymour lacked the legal authority
to make the beneficiary designation. Defendant St. Amant also
claimed that a beneficiary designation, dated October 23,
2013, is similarly invalid and that the Decedent lacked the
mental capacity to make beneficiary designations on May 7,
2013 and January 24, 2013. (ECF Nos. 1-9; 1-10). Mutual also
received a letter from Defendant Doxey, acknowledging the
adverse claims asserted by St. Amant and recommending Mutual
file an interpleader action. (ECF No. 1-15, at 2).
April 15, 2016, Mutual of America filed this interpleader
action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335, to resolve
competing claims over the amounts payable pursuant to the
annuity contracts. (ECF No. 1). Defendants Doxey, Smith, St.
Amant, Seymour, the Estate, The Living Trust of Verneda
Pigott, Trustee of the Verneda Pigott Trust (the
“Living Trust”), and Lillian Robinson answered.
(ECF Nos. 16; 17; 25; 28; 30). Default was entered as to
Defendants Karen Leftride and Matilda Dawson. (ECF Nos. 43;
46). Mutual of America filed motions for discharge (ECF No.
69) and for entry of default as to the Estate of Sylvia
Coleman (ECF No. 71), which were denied because the Estate of
Sylvia Coleman had not been served properly. (ECF No. 74).
The Estate of Sylvia Coleman was served properly on April 24,
2018. (ECF No. 78). To date, the Estate of Sylvia Coleman has
not answered. On June 4, Mutual renewed its motion for entry
of default as to the Estate of Sylvia Coleman. (ECF No. 81).
On June 7, Mutual renewed its motion for discharge,
injunction, and attorneys' fees and costs. (ECF No. 82).
Motion for Entry of Default
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), “[w]hen a party against whom a
judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead
or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit
or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's
default.” Although this rule refers to entry of default
by the clerk, “it is well-established that a default
also may be entered by the court.” Breuer Elec.
Mfg. Co. v. Toronado Sys. of Am., Inc., 687 F.2d 182,
185 (7th Cir. 1982).
Estate of Sylvia Coleman was served properly on April 24,
2018. (ECF No. 78). The administrator of the Estate of Sylvia
Coleman, Thomas Coleman, mailed a letter dated May 7, 2018,
to Mutual's counsel. Mutual's counsel filed this
letter with the court. (ECF No. 79-1). However, this letter
is not an official pleading by the Estate of Sylvia Coleman
and Mr. Coleman may not represent the Estate. See
Local Rule 101.1(a) (D.Md. 2016). Thus, no appearance or
answer on behalf of the Estate of Sylvia Coleman has been
filed since it was served on April 28, and Mutual's
motion for entry of default will be granted.
Motion for Discharge
Standard of Review
interpleader action involves two stages. 7 Charles A. Wright
et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 1714
(3d ed. 2001); Rapid Settlements, Ltd. v. U.S. Fid. &
Guar. Co., 672 F.Supp.2d 714, 717 (D.Md. 2009). In
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