Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

The Prudential Insurance Company of America v. Jackson

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

September 4, 2019

THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA
v.
WALTER JACKSON JR., ET AL

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the undersigned magistrate judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [doc. # 25] filed by defendant-in-crossclaim, Joy R. Jackson. The motion is unopposed. For reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the motion to dismiss be DENIED.

         Background

         On April 26, 2019, The Prudential Insurance Company of America (“Prudential”) filed the instant interpleader complaint under Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Compl.). Prudential invoked the court's federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(2) and (e) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) because the underlying group life insurance policy was an employee welfare benefit plan governed by ERISA. Id.

         According to the complaint, on or about October 1, 1992, Prudential issued Group employee basic life insurance policy number “G-33624” to the State of Louisiana (Madison Parish School) (“the Plan”). As an eligible employee of the State of Louisiana (Madison Parish School), Mary D. Jackson (the “Insured”) received life insurance coverage under the Plan. By “State Employee Group Benefits Plan Enrollment Document” dated September 11, 1992, the Insured designated Joy Rachelle Jackson, daughter; Walter Jackson, Jr., son; and Polly Jackson, daughter; as beneficiaries to the Plan proceeds in equal shares. Subsequently, by “Enrollment form - State of Louisiana” dated February 5, 2013, the Insured designated Joy R. Jackson, daughter, as sole primary and sole contingent beneficiary to the Plan proceeds. However, by “Enrollment Form - State of Louisiana” dated November 2, 2018, the Insured designated Walter Jackson, Jr., son, and Polly J. Wright, daughter, as primary beneficiaries to the Plan proceeds in equal shares and designated Mary J. King, daughter, and Brenda J. Patterson, daughter, as contingent beneficiaries to the Plan proceeds in equal shares.

         The Insured died on November 13, 2018, and Plan proceeds in the amount of $22, 000 became payable to a beneficiary or beneficiaries (the “Death Benefit”).

         By facsimile dated November 16, 2018, Joy R. Jackson challenged the November 2, 2018, change of beneficiary, alleging that the signature on the form was not the signature of the Insured, who was in hospice care at the time it was executed.

         On or about November 23, 2018, Walter Jackson, Jr., Polly Wright, Mary King and Brenda Patterson executed an “Irrevocable Assignment and Power of Attorney” naming Express Funeral Funding L.L.C., through assignment from Beckwith Golden Gate Funeral Home, as assignee of $16, 804.84, “plus statutory interest from the Insured's date of death, ” of the Death Benefit for services provided in connection with the funeral of the Insured.

         In its complaint, Prudential named four parties-claimant: Walter Jackson, Jr.; Polly Wright; Joy R. Jackson; and Express Funeral Funding L.L.C., as assignee of Beckwith Golden Gate Funeral Home. Prudential seeks an order, inter alia, requiring defendants and/or the Court to determine to whom the death benefit should be paid. Prudential also seeks an order discharging it from liability, plus an award of attorney's fees and costs.

         On June 18, 2019, Defendants Walter Jackson, Jr., Polly Wright, and Express Funding, L.L.C. filed their answer to the suit, together with a crossclaim against Joy R. Jackson for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Cross-claimants seek disbursement of the Plan proceeds in their favor, together with an award of attorney's fees under ERISA. They also seek an order voiding the February 5, 2013, Enrollment form, and rescission of the designation of beneficiary form for the Plan.

         Discussion

         On July 30, 2019, Joy R. Jackson filed the instant motion to dismiss the crossclaim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Movant contends that the cross-claimants are not employees covered under the ERISA statute, and therefore, do not have standing to assert a claim for relief. Plaintiffs-in-crossclaim did not file a response to the motion to dismiss, and the time to do so has lapsed. See Notice of Motion Setting. [doc. # 27]. Thus, the motion is considered unopposed. Id.[1] The matter is ripe.

         The issue presented by the instant motion is whether the cross-claimants may be characterized as one of the enumerated parties authorized to file suit under the terms of ERISA's civil enforcement statute. Under § 502(a), only participants, [2] beneficiaries, [3] fiduciaries, [4] and the Secretary of Labor are empowered to bring civil actions. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a); Tango Transport v. Healthcare Financial Services LLC, 322 F.3d 888, 891 (5th Cir. 2003); Coleman v. Champion Int'l Corp./Champion Forest Products,992 F.2d 530, 533 (5th Cir.1993). Whilst it is manifest that the cross-claimants are neither participants, nor ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.