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Pamela Stonebreaker v. Kristin Stonebreaker

November 4, 2011

PAMELA STONEBREAKER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
KRISTIN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; KELLI STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; RYAN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; GUARDIAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, A CORPORATION; WESTERN RESERVE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF OHIO, A CORPORATION; UNION SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION; DOES 1-100, INCLUSIVE. DEFENDANTS.
WESTERN RESERVE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF OHIO, A CORPORATION, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
PATRICIA YIM COWETT, GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR MINOR CHILDREN KRISTIN STONEBREAKER, KELLI STONEBREAKER, AND RYAN STONEBREAKER; ROE ONE, AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT STONEBREAKER; ROES 2-10, INCLUSIVE; THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS. WESTERN RESERVE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF OHIO, A CORPORATION COUNTERCLAIMANT,
v.
PAMELA STONEBREAKER, AN INDIVIDUAL. COUNTERDEFENDANT.
UNION SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION COUNTERCLAIMANT,
v.
PAMELA STONEBREAKER, AN INDIVIDUAL. COUNTERDEFENDANT.
UNION SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION CROSS-CLAIMANT,
v.
KRISTIN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; KELLI STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; RYAN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR, CROSS-DEFENDANT. GUARDIAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, A CORPORATION, CROSS-CLAIMANT,
v.
KRISTIN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; KELLI STONEBREAKER, A MINOR; RYAN STONEBREAKER, A MINOR, CROSS-DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matters before the Court are the Ex Parte Motion for an Order for Continuance of the Motion for Summary Judgment Pending Discovery filed by Defendant Union Security Insurance Company (ECF No. 46); the Ex Parte Motion to Reschedule the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 78) filed by Plaintiff; the Ex Parte Motion to Stay the Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion for Judgment in Interpleader (ECF No. 92) filed by Plaintiff; and the Amended Ex Parte Motion to Continue Hearing and Stay (ECF No. 129) filed by Western Reserve.

I. Background

On April 15, 2011, Defendants removed the Complaint filed by Pamela Stonebreaker in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego. Plaintiff alleges that she was married to Dr. Robert Stonebreaker who purchased the following life insurance policies: (1) three policies from Defendant Guardian Life Insurance Company ("Guardian") totaling $2,000,000.00; (2) one policy from Defendant Western Reserve Life Insurance Company of Ohio ("Western Reserve") in the amount of $250,000.00; (3) one policy from Defendant Union Security Insurance Company ("Union Security") in the amount of $525,000.00. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Stonebreaker died on January 16, 2010; however, Defendants have failed to pay the life insurance benefits to Plaintiff Stonebreaker, the primary beneficiary. Plaintiff asserts a claim for breach of contract and a claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against each Defendant.

On April 21, 2011, Defendant Western Reserve filed a Counterclaim and Third-party Complaint in Interpleader against Plaintiff Pamela Stonebreaker. Western Reserve alleges that Dr. Stonebreaker's death was determined to be a homicide and Plaintiff, the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, was a suspect. Western Reserve alleges that Plaintiff would be prohibited from recovering the proceeds of the life insurance policy if she is found to have caused her husband's death and the proceeds would instead be distributed to the estate of Dr. Stonebreaker. Western Reserve alleges that although it admits the proceeds of the life insurance policy is due and owing, payment of the proceeds may subject it to the risk of multiple claims.

On April 22, 2011, Defendant Union Security filed a Counterclaim in Interpleader. Union Security alleges that Plaintiff is the primary beneficiary of the policies and the Stonebreaker's minor children are the secondary beneficiaries. Union Security alleges that it is willing and able to pay the proceeds of the life insurance policy, but it cannot determine who is the proper beneficiary.

On April 22, 2011, Guardian filed a Counterclaim for Interpleader against Plaintiff Stonebreaker and filed a Cross-claim against Kristin Stonebreaker, Kelli Stonebreaker, and Ryan Stonebreaker. Guardian alleges that Plaintiff is the primary beneficiary of the policies and the Stonebreaker's minor children are the secondary beneficiaries. Guardian alleges that it is willing and able to pay the proceeds of the life insurance policy, but it cannot determine who is the proper beneficiary.

On June 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff seeks summary judgment on the breach of contract claim for Defendants' failure to pay her the life insurance proceeds on the grounds that "(i) it is undisputed that [Dr. Stonebreaker] has died and (ii) there is no evidence -- let alone a preponderance of the evidence -- to support the Defendants' allegation that [Plaintiff] killed her husband." (ECF No. 37-1 at 17). Plaintiff contends: "To oppose this motion, the Defendants must produce more than suspicion and speculation. They must produce evidence to support their accusation that [Plaintiff] killed her husband. The Defendants will not be able to do so because it simply is not true." Id. at 21.

On June 23, 2011, Union Security filed an Ex Parte Motion for an Order for Continuance of the Motion for Summary Judgment Pending Discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). Union Security contends that "written discovery has only just begun. Much of this discovery is within Ms. Stonebreaker's sole control, and depositions cannot meaningfully proceed until the secondary beneficiaries are represented by counsel and have appeared in this action." (ECF No. 46 at 2). Union Security contends: "Given Ms. Stonebreaker's contention that the Insurers [have] no reason to believe she was a suspect in her husband's murder and that she [is] in fact innocent, at a minimum the Insurers are entitled to take depositions of the San Diego Sheriffs office, the coroner, and Ms. Stonebreaker herself ...." Id. at 5. Defendant Union Security has submitted the Declaration of Alexander Potente stating that the minor children had "not yet been appointed counsel or appeared in this action." (ECF No. 46-2 at 2). Potente states that Union Security intends to depose Plaintiff Stonebreaker, the coroner, and the San Diego Sheriff's officer investigating the case.

On June 23, 2011, Defendant Guardian filed a Joinder in Defendant Union Security's Ex Parte Motion for an Order for Continuance of the Motion for Summary Judgment pending discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). (ECF No. 45). On June 23, 2011, Defendant Western Reserve filed a Non-Opposition to the Ex Parte Motion for an Order for Continuance of the Motion for Summary Judgment Pending Discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). (ECF No. 47).

On June 24, 2011, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the Ex Parte Motion for an Order for Continuance of the Motion for Summary Judgment pending discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). (ECF No. 54). Plaintiff contends that Defendant could have interviewed Plaintiff Stonebreaker or "talked with the Sheriff's office" after she filed her claim seeking the life insurance benefits. Id. at 7. Plaintiff contends that Defendants "admit that they don't know whether there is any evidence that would preclude summary judgment." Id. at 6.

On June 26, 2011, Union Security filed a Reply. (ECF No. 55).

On June 29, 2011, this Court issued an order staying the briefing on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment pending a ...


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