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Pruco Life Insurance Co. v. Breen

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 11, 2019

PRUCO LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
KACIE BREEN AND THE ESTATE OF WAYNE EDMOND BREEN

         SECTION “R” (3)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SARAH S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is intervenor defendant Sean Michael Breen's motion for reconsideration under Rule 60(b).[1] The Court denies the motion because (1) litigants may not file successive motions for reconsideration, (2) Rule 60(b) does not apply to nondispositive motions, and (3) Sean Breen has made no showing that reconsideration is necessary.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of the death of Dr. Wayne Breen. On March 1, 2015, Dr. Breen was shot and killed by his wife, defendant Kacie Breen.[2] Dr. Breen had two life insurance policies, one with Pruco Life Insurance Company and one with Lincoln National Life Insurance Company.[3] Both policies name Kacie Breen as the sole beneficiary.[4] Dr. Breen and Kacie Breen had one child together, Aiden Breen, who is not a party to this suit.[5] Dr. Breen also had six adult children-five from a previous marriage and one from an extramarital relationship.[6]

         After Dr. Breen's death, Pruco and Lincoln filed consolidated interpleader actions in federal court.[7] Kacie Breen, the adult Breen children, and Alyce Landry, the administratrix of Dr. Breen's estate, are named claimants.[8] Landry and the adult Breen children sought to defeat Kacie Breen's status as beneficiary by invoking the provisions of Louisiana Revised Statutes § 22:901(D), also known as Louisiana's “slayer rule.”[9] This rule bars a beneficiary from receiving life insurance proceeds if she is either “[h]eld by a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction to be criminally responsible for the death, disablement, or injury of the individual insured, ” or “[j]udicially determined to have participated in the intentional, unjustified killing of the individual insured.” La. R.S. § 22:901(D). Kacie Breen maintained that she killed her husband in self-defense.[10]

         Judge Kurt Engelhardt held a two-day bench trial on this matter in March 2017. On June 9, 2017, the court held that the adult Breen children and Landry had not met their burden of proving that the killing was unjustified.[11] Kacie Breen was thus entitled to the proceeds of the policies as a qualified beneficiary.[12] One of the adult Breen children, Sean Breen, appealed the judgment to the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed Judge Engelhardt's decision on August 16, 2018.[13] Sean Breen also filed a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), a motion to strike Kacie Breen's response in opposition to his Rule 60(b) motion, and a motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.[14] This Court denied Sean Breen's motions on September 20, 2018.[15] Sean Breen now seeks reconsideration of these denials.[16] Kacie Breen opposes the motion.[17]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A district court has broad discretion to grant or deny a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Lyles v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, USA, Inc., 871 F.3d 305, 315 (5th Cir. 2017). Rule 60(b) permits a court to grant relief from a final judgment or order only upon a showing of one of the following:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it ...

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