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The Prudential Insurance Company of America v. Fatin Alkhafaji In Her Capacity As Administrator of the Estate of

February 4, 2011

THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
FATIN ALKHAFAJI IN HER CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ABBASS ALKHAFAJI, A.A. A MINOR, ALLIAH ALKHAFAJI, SHAEMAH ALKHAFAJI, BETOOL ALI IN HER CAPACITY AS EXECUTOR/ ADMINISTRATOR/ TRUSTEE/ REPRESENTATIVE OR GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE OF HAMZIAH ALKHAFAJI, AND SANA ALIIN HER CAPACITY AS GUARDIAN FOR A.A.
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This is an interpleader action brought by Plaintiff (The Prudential Insurance Company of America), the life insurer of Abbass Alkhafaji, ("the insured"), to resolve a dispute concerning distribution of the insurance proceeds among: (1) the insured‟s spouse, and her five children, at the time of his death (the insured‟s third wife, "Wife-3"); (2) the insured‟s ex-second wife as the legal guardian of his incapacitated child ("Wife-2"); and (3) the daughters of the insured‟s first wife ("Wife-1"). This Court notes that each of the Defendants has admirably represented herself (and her children) pro se.

Currently before the Court are submissions from each Defendant which this Court has designated as Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. See doc. no. 70 converting submissions filed at doc nos. 66, 67, 68 and 69 to Motions for Summary Judgment. In addition, each Defendant filed a Response to those submissions which the Court deemed to be Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. See doc. nos. 71, 72, 73 and 74.

For the reasons set forth in great detail in this Opinion, this Court has determined that there are no genuine issues of material fact present, and thus, the insurance proceeds are to be paid in accordance with the most recent beneficiary form sent to Plaintiff which indicates as follows: (1) A.A. is entitled to recover thirty-five percent (35%) of the proceeds payable to Sana Ali (Wife-2) as his legal guardian; (2) Defendant Alliah*fn1 Alkhafaji is entitled to recover thirty-five percent (35%) of the proceeds; and (3) Shaemah Alkhafaji is entitled to recover thirty percent (30%) of the proceeds. Defendant Betool Ali, in her capacity as Executor/ Administrator/Trustee/Representative or Guardian of the Estate of Hamziah Alkhafaji, and Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3) and her children are not entitled to recover any proceeds under this policy of insurance.

I. Background

A. Procedural History

This case incepted on November 5, 2009, when Plaintiff filed its Interpleader Complaint. Doc. no. 1. On December 29, 2009, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. Doc. no. 7. This Court set an initial case management conference for February 25, 2010 (doc. no. 12), but postponed the conference due to representations that the parties were attempting to reach an amicable resolution to the matter.*fn2 See text order entry dated February 8, 2010. On March 10, 2010, at the request of Plaintiff, this Court reopened this matter for further adjudication. See doc. nos. 20 and 21.

On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 24) requesting this Court: (1) appoint Sana Ali, the insured‟s second wife, as guardian ad litem to A.A., an incapacitated child of the insured; (2) appoint Betool Ali as representative of the estate of Hamziah Alkhafaji -- the insured‟s mother; (3) require Plaintiff to deposit the sum of $50,000.00, together with claim interest, into the Court‟s Registry; (4) direct all Defendants to interplead their claims to the insurance death benefit; (5) discharge Prudential from any and all liability with respect to the subject insurance policy and payment of the death benefit; and (6) dismiss Prudential from this lawsuit with prejudice. After receiving responses from the Defendants, this Court granted Plaintiff‟s Motion for Summary Judgment granting all six of the requested forms of relief. Doc. nos. 29 and 30.

This Court held a case management conference for Defendants on October 27, 2010. See doc. no. 36. The only Defendant to attend this conference was Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3). On October 28, 2010, this Court issued a Rule to Show Cause (doc. no. 37) why the insurance proceeds should not be equally distributed among the insured‟s eight children. In response to this Rule, three of the co-defendants -- Defendants Shaemah Alkhafaji, Alliah Alkhafaji, (the two daughters of Wife-1), and Sana Ali (Wife-2) -- filed objections to the Rule. See doc. nos. 44, 45, 46 and 49.

Given the objections, this Court held a Show Cause conference on December 29, 2010, and at that conference, Defendants Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), Shaemah and Alliah Alkhafaji (daughters of Wife-1), and Sana Ali (Wife-2) were present. See minute entry from December 29, 2010. During this conference some of the participants reiterated their objections to the Rule to Show Cause, and the Court said it would convert the Defendants‟ prior responses related to the Rule to Show Cause into Motions for Summary Judgment. See doc. nos. 44, 45, 46 and 49. The Court then indicated it would, and did, issue a Case Management Order (see doc. no. 60), allowing each Defendant to file any additional documents or position statements on or before January 19, 2011, explaining their respective positions with respect to this Court‟s Rule to Show Cause (doc. no. 37).

On January 14, 2011, Defendant Alliah Alkhafaji and Defendant Shaemah Alkhafaji (daughters of Wife-1) filed and/or restated their positions to this Court‟s Rule to Show Cause. See doc. nos. 66 and 67, respectively. On January 19, 2011, Defendant Sana Ali (Wife-2) and Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3) filed and/or restated their positions to this Court‟s Rule to Show Cause. See doc. nos. 68 and 69, respectively.

Each of these documents (doc. nos. 66, 67, 68, and 69) will be treated as Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Alliah Alkhafaji (daughter of Wife-1), Defendant Shaemah Alkhafaji (daughter of Wife-1), Defendant Sana Ali (Wife-2), and Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), respectively.

Pursuant to the Case Management Order, all of the Defendants were invited to file a Response to any one or more of these Motions for Summary Judgment (doc. nos. 66, 67, 68, and 69) on or before January 28, 2011. On January 28, 2011, Defendant Alliah Alkhafaji (daughter of Wife-1), Defendant Shaemah Alkhafaji (Daughter of Wife-1), Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), and Defendant Sana Ali (Wife-2), filed Responses. See doc. nos. 70, 71, 72 and 73, respectively.

Defendants Alliah and Shaemah Alkhafaji (daughters of Wife-1), as well as Sana Ali (Wife-2), contend that based on the most recent beneficiary form the insured submitted to Plaintiff: (1) A.A. is entitled to recover 35% of these insurance proceeds through his legal guardian Sana Ali, (2) Defendant Alliah Alkfajani is also entitled to recover 35% of the insurance proceeds; and (3) Defendant Shaemah Alkhafaji is entitled to recover the remaining 30% of the insurance proceeds. See doc. nos. 66, 67, and 68. Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), disagrees with this position and instead contends that based on the insured‟s last will and testament, he wanted all of the insurance proceeds to go to her five children as well as his two daughter by Wife-1 and his incapacitated son by Wife-2. See doc. nos. 69 and 72.

B. Relevant Facts

The following facts are material and are not contested by any of the Defendants.

The insured, during the course of his lifetime, was married three times relevant to this lawsuit. At the time of his death, Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), was the spouse of the insured. Id. at ¶2. Defendant Sana Ali (Wife-2) was the insured‟s ex-wife, and is the legal guardian of A.A., the insured‟s incapacitated son. Id. at ¶3. Defendants Shaemah Alkhafaji and Alliah Alkhafaji are daughters of the insured by another ex-wife (Wife-1) of the insured -- not Sana Ali. Id. at ¶¶ 5-6. Finally, Defendant Betool Ali is the executrix (and daughter) of the estate of Hamziah Alkhafaji. Id. at ¶7. Hamziah Alkhafaji was the insured‟s mother. Id. at ¶8.

After the insured‟s death, a dispute arose among his surviving spouse, Defendant Fatin Alkhafaji (Wife-3), his two daughters by Wife-1 -- Defendants Alliah and Shaemah Alkhafaji, and the legal guardian of his incapacitated child, Sana Ali (Wife-2), as to how the insurance proceeds payable by the Plaintiff should be distributed.

The insured, as an employee of Slippery Rock University, obtained a group life insurance policy through Plaintiff in the amount of $50,000.00. Id. at ¶11; see also doc. no. 7-2. The insured executed a beneficiary form on or about August 27, 1987, indicating that his daughters, Alliah Alkhafaji and Shaemah Alkhafaji, were each to receive 35% of these insurance proceeds, while his mother, Hamziah Alkhafaji was to receive 30% of the proceeds. Doc. no. 7, ¶¶12-13; see also, doc. no. 7-3.

On or about February 20, 1995, the insured executed a subsequent beneficiary form indicating that his son, "A.A.," was to receive 35% of the insurance proceeds, his daughter, Alliah Alkhafaji, was to receive 35% of the insurance proceeds, and his other daughter, Shaemah Alkhafaji, was to receive 30% of the proceeds. Doc. no. 7, ¶¶14-15; see also, doc. no. 7-4. Slippery Rock University sent a letter dated May 9, 1995, verifying that the insured had named his three children (A.A., Alliah and Shaemah Alkhafaji) as his primary beneficiaries on the insurance policy at issue in this case. Doc. no. 7, ¶16; see also, doc. no. 7-5.

The life insurance policy issued by Plaintiff states in ...


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