United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
matter is before the court on plaintiff's motions for
default judgment and interpleader relief. (DE ## 41, 42.) For
the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted.
The Prudential Insurance Company of America
(“Prudential”), filed an interpleader complaint
(DE # 1) in this case to resolve the competing claims of
defendants Julie Ann Barker (“Julie”), Bobby Jo
Compton (“Bobby”), Patricia Estes
(“Patricia”), and William T. Sammons
(“William”), to the undisputed portion of a death
benefit in the amount of $240, 800, due as a consequence of
the death of Danny Jo Barker (“the Insured”),
under a group life insurance policy issued by Prudential to a
third party contract holder, Atkore International
(“Atkore”), identified as Group Policy No.
G-51027-IL (the “Group Policy”).
issued the Group Policy to Atkore. (DE # 1 at 3.) At all
relevant times, the Insured was covered under the Group
Policy for death benefits totaling $344, 000 (the
“Death Benefit”). (Id.)
March 6, 2018, the Insured died in Indiana, and the Death
Benefit became due. (Id.) The Group Policy provides
that benefits are payable to the designated beneficiary.
(Id.) Following the Insured's death, Atkore
advised Prudential that the Insured initially designated the
following beneficiaries of the Death Benefit: Amisty Barker
(“Amisty”) for 10%; Danny Joe Barker, Jr.
(“Danny”) for 10%; Julie for 60%; Bobby for 10%;
and Robert Woodworth (“Robert”) for 10%.
(Id. at 4.)
further advised Prudential that it was provided with a
handwritten beneficiary designation dated June 30, 2017,
purporting to change the beneficiaries of the Death Benefit
as follows: Amisty for 10%; Danny for 10%; Robert for 10%;
Patricia for 10%; Julie for 10%; and Bobby for 50%.
(Id.) However, Atkore advised Prudential that it
generally does not accept handwritten beneficiary
Atkore advised Prudential that it received a written request,
dated February 28, 2018, submitted by Phillip J. Barker, as
Power of Attorney for the Insured, seeking to change the
beneficiaries of the Death Benefit as follows: Bobby for 70%;
Danny for 10%; Amisty for 10%; and Robert for 10%.
April 24, 2018, William sent Prudential a letter enclosing an
assignment provided by Bobby to William for $10, 000 of the
Death Benefit, in connection with legal services rendered by
William on Bobby's behalf. (Id. at 5.)
Prudential also received a letter dated August 20, 2018, from
counsel for Julie, Danny, Amisty, and Robert, alleging that
the February 28, 2018, designation is not valid because the
Insured was not competent at the time the Power of Attorney
was given to Phillip J. Barker. (Id.)
does not dispute that the Death Benefit is owed.
(Id. at 6.) The portion of the Death Benefit
currently in dispute is $240, 800. (Id. at 5.)
Prudential brought the present interpleader action on the
basis that it is unable to determine how much of the
remaining Death Benefit Bobby, Julie, Patricia, and William
are entitled to receive. (Id.) Specifically,
Prudential is unable to determine which of the three
beneficiary designations was in effect at the time of the
Insured's death. (Id.)
February 12, 2019, Prudential deposited the portion of the
Death Benefit at issue and accrued claim interest, an amount
of $243, 041.53, into the Court's registry. (DE ## 31,
32.) Prudential now moves this court for entry of
interpleader relief, discharging it from any liability
related to the portion of the Death Benefit at issue, and
dismissing it from this action with prejudice. (DE # 42.) No.
party has filed an objection to Prudential's motion.
also seeks entry of default judgment against Patricia.
Patricia was served on November 8, 2018. (DE # 24.) Patricia
was initially represented by counsel, who filed an
appearance, but counsel subsequently moved to withdraw his
representation and the Magistrate Judge granted the motion.
(DE ## 5, 18, 27.) Patricia thereafter proceeded pro
se. On February 6, 2019, Patricia appeared at a status
conference with the Magistrate Judge. (DE # 28.) The
Magistrate Judge granted Patricia an extension of time, until
March 8, 2019, to file a response to the complaint.
(Id.) To date, Patricia has not responded to the
complaint. The Clerk entered default against Patricia on
March 19, 2019. (DE # 37.) Prudential now seeks entry of