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Allstate Life Insurance Co. v. McBrearty

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 24, 2013

ALLSTATE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARY LOU McBREARTY, CAROLE VILCKO, and FRANK FALCONE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Mary Lou McBrearty (Doc. 9) and a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) and a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 30) filed by Plaintiff Allstate Life Insurance Company ("Allstate"). Allstate commenced this interpleader action against McBrearty, Defendant Carole Vilcko, and Defendant Frank Falcone after receiving conflicting claims to the death benefit due under an annuity owned by Defendants' mother, Nicolene Falcone. Allstate contends that, based on the undisputed facts, it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on McBrearty's breach of contract counterclaim and should be discharged from liability and further participation in this action. McBrearty seeks to dismiss Vilcko and Falcone's crossclaim, which alleges that McBrearty violated her fiduciary duty as Ms. Falcone's attorney-in-fact by unauthorizedly converting funds from Ms. Falcone for her own use. For the reasons below, Allstate's Motion for Summary Judgment[1] will be granted, and McBrearty's Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Allstate's First Amended Complaint for Interpleader (Doc. 3)

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22, Allstate commenced this diversity action by filing its Complaint for Interpleader on October 10, 2011. (Doc. 1.) Allstate filed a First Amended Complaint for Interpleader (Doc. 3) on December 28, 2011, in which it alleges the following:

On or about April 15, 2002, Ms. Falcone purchased a Flexible Premium Deferred Annuity, certificate number GA0686886 ("the Annuity"), from Glenbrook Life and Annuity Company ("Glenbrook"). ( Id. at ¶ 7, Ex. A.) Allstate is a successor to Glenbrook, which merged with Allstate in 2005. ( Id. at ¶ 1.) At the time of the Annuity's purchase, Ms. Falcone designated McBrearty as the beneficiary entitled to receive any death benefit payment due under the Annuity if Ms. Falcone died before April 15, 2012. ( Id. at ¶ 8.)

On or about February 24, 2006, Allstate received a beneficiary change request ("BCR"), which was dated February 21, 2006 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, which designated McBrearty, Vilcko, and Falcone as the Annuity's beneficiaries. ( Id. at ¶ 10, Ex. B.) On or about March 21, 2006, Allstate received a BCR, which was dated March 20, 2006 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating McBrearty as the Annuity's sole beneficiary. ( Id. at ¶ 11, Ex. C.)

On or about January 13, 2011, Allstate received a BCR, which was dated January 12, 2011 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating McBrearty, Vilcko, and Falcone as beneficiaries in equal share under the Annuity. (Doc. 3 at ¶ 12, Ex. D.)

On or about January 21, 2011, Allstate received two forms pertaining to the Annuity. The first form, a BCR that was dated January 21, 2011 and appeared to be signed by "Mary Lou McBrearty POA, " designated McBrearty as the Annuity's sole beneficiary. ( Id. at ¶ 13(i), Ex. E.) The other form, which was also dated January 21, 2011 and appeared to be signed by "Mary Lou McBrearty POA, " listed McBrearty and Vilcko under the section providing for changes to the name or address of the "owner/insured/beneficiary/annuitant." ( Id. at ¶ 13(ii), Ex. F.)

On or about January 24, 2011, Allstate received two more forms concerning the Annuity. The first was a BCR, which was dated January 24, 2011 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating McBrearty as the Annuity's sole beneficiary. ( Id. at ¶ 14(i), Ex. G.) This BCR also appeared to be signed by McBrearty in the area designated for the irrevocable beneficiary's signature. ( Id. ) The other form, which was dated January 24, 2011 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, listed McBrearty and Vilcko under the section for changes to the name or address of the "owner/insured/beneficiary/annuitant." ( Id. at ¶ 14(ii), Ex. H.) Allstate received another form identical to the second form the following day. ( Id. at ¶ 15, Ex. I.)

On or about January 27, 2011, Allstate received a BCR, which appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating McBrearty as the Annuity's beneficiary. (Doc. 3 at ¶ 16, Ex. J.) On or about January 31, 2011, Allstate received a BCR, which was dated January 28, 2011 and appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating "Mary Lou McBrearty, Irrevocable Beneficiary" as the Annuity's sole beneficiary. ( Id. at ¶ 17, Ex. K.). This BCR also appears to be signed by McBrearty in the area designated for the irrevocable beneficiary's signature. ( Id. )

On or about April 28, 2011, Allstate received a BCR, which appeared to bear Ms. Falcone's signature, designating McBrearty, Vilcko, and Falcone as beneficiaries in equal share under the Annuity. ( Id. at ¶ 18, Ex. L.) The letter from Vilcko and Falcone's counsel that accompanied the BCR stated that Ms. Falcone, upon learning that McBrearty had attempted to make herself the Annuity's sole beneficiary, confirmed that she wanted her three children to share equally in the Annuity's death benefit and signed the BCR. ( Id. ) Ms. Falcone died on May 8, 2011. ( Id. at ¶ 19.) On or about June 8, 2011, Allstate received a letter from McBrearty's counsel asserting that McBrearty, as the Annuity's irrevocable beneficiary at the time of Ms. Falcone's death, was entitled to the entire death benefit due under the Annuity. ( Id. at ¶ 20, Ex. M.)

Faced with competing claims to the Annuity's death benefit, Allstate commenced this interpleader action. Allstate seeks an order: (1) authorizing and directing Allstate to deposit the death benefit funds into the Court registry pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 67; (2) requiring Defendants to interplead and settle between themselves their conflicting claims to the sum to be deposited with the Court and discharging Allstate of any potential future liability with respect to that sum pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335; and (3) enjoining Defendants from instituting or prosecuting any proceeding in any court regarding the death benefit or ...


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