The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER SETTING HEARING FOR DECEMBER 5, 2012
This is an interpleader action brought by Plaintiff Transamerica Life Insurance ("Plaintiff"), based on concerns that it may be subject to multiple conflicting claims regarding the distribution of a deferred life insurance annuity ("Annuity") payable on behalf of Annuitant/Owner Jeri Wood-Shubin ("Wood-Shubin"). (Doc. 2.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court SETS a hearing date on December 5, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 7 regarding the potential claims to the disputed portion of the Annuity.
On November 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint in interpleader, alleging that on April 27, 1990, Pacific Fidelity Life Insurance Company, now known as Transamerica (Plaintiff), issued the Annuity to Wood-Shubin. (Doc. 2, ¶ 5.) Wood-Shubin had filed an Annuity Policy Change Form on July 31, 2008, naming Defendants James Shubin ("James"), Gary Shubin ("Gary")*fn1 , and Roberto Garcia ("Garcia" or, collectively, "Defendants") as beneficiaries of the Annuity, each with an equal one-third share. (Doc. 2-1, Exh. B, pp. 8-10.) James and Gary were two of Wood-Shubin's stepsons, and Garcia was allegedly Wood-Shubin's friend and caretaker. (Doc. 2-1, Exh. B, pp. 8-10.) Prior to beneficiary change, James and Gary had been the previous beneficiaries, each with an equal one-half share of the Annuity. (Doc. 2-1, Exh. B, p. 7.)
Wood-Shubin died on June 29, 2011. (Doc. 2, ¶ 5.) Plaintiff alleges that it became aware that on August 25, 2011, a lawsuit had been filed in the Fresno County Superior Court in the case of Evelyn Lauderdale, as Trustee of the Jeri L. Shubin 2007 Trust, v. Roberto Garcia, case no. 11 CECG02841, alleging that Garcia had dominated and controlled Wood-Shubin's daily routine and financial affairs and improperly converted Wood-Shubin's assets for Garcia's own benefit. (See Doc. 2, ¶ 12, Exh. E; Doc. 30, pp. 5-19.)
Plaintiff's complaint "admits that it owes the distribution of the death benefit proceeds" on the Wood-Shubin's Annuity, but asserts that "due to conflicting claims and the filed lawsuit" against Garcia in Fresno County Superior Court, Plaintiff "is at risk of multiple liability." (Doc. 2, ¶ 14.) Plaintiff thus filed the instant suit, alleging that the proceeds of the Annuity should be subject to interpleader due to concerns that, if the state court lawsuit is successful and Garcia is found to have unduly influenced Wood-Shubin, the other beneficiaries would be able to challenge the validity of the designation of beneficiaries as to the Annuity and Plaintiff would then be liable for having paid the wrong person. (Doc. 17, 4:23-27.)
On November 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint in interpleader against Defendants Gary, James, and Garcia. (Doc. 2.) Gary was served on December 9, 2011, Garcia was served on December 10, 2011, and James was served on January 19, 2012. (Docs. 7, 8, 14.) Garcia filed an answer on January 3, 2012. (Doc. 9.) James and Gary failed to file responsive pleadings. On January 20, 2012, Plaintiff requested entry of default against Gary, which was entered by the Clerk of the Court on January 23, 2012. (Docs. 10, 11.)
On February 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for order for discharge and award of costs and attorney fees. (Doc. 15.) No opposition was filed. A hearing was held on April 11, 2012, before Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto. (Doc. 23.) Although Garcia had not filed a response to Plaintiff's motion, Garcia's counsel was present at the hearing. On the same day, based on representations made at the hearing, Plaintiff filed a Request for Entry of Default as to James. (Doc. 24.)
On April 12, 2012, the Court issued an order requiring Plaintiff to submit supplemental briefing regarding issues raised at the hearing, and on April 16, 2012, the Court issued another order requiring Plaintiff to provide supplemental briefing concerning service on James. (Docs. 27, 29.) On April 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed the supplemental information requested by the Court; Plaintiff and Garcia also filed a stipulation that the only portion of the Annuity in dispute was the amount payable to Garcia and that there was no dispute as to the portion of Annuity payable to Gary and James. (Docs. 30-33.)
On May 24, 2012, Plaintiff filed a stipulation regarding the validity of service on James, who "acknowledge[d] valid and effective service on him" and thus addressed the Court's concern that James was properly served. (Doc. 34, 1:27; see also Doc. 29.) As such, on May 29, ...