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Transamerica Life Insurance v. Gary Shubin

December 6, 2012

TRANSAMERICA LIFE INSURANCE
COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GARY SHUBIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO SET ASIDE THE DEFAULTS OF DEFENDANTS GARY SHUBIN AND JAMES SHUBIN (Docket No. 52)

ORDER DENYING AS MOOT THE MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT OF DEFENDANTS GARY SHUBIN AND JAMES SHUBIN (Docket No. 53)

ORDER REQUIRING DEFENDANTS TO FILE A RENEWED STIPULATION FOR DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS AND DISMISSAL OF ACTION

I. INTRODUCTION

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.)

On October 25, 2012, Defendants James Shubin ("James"), Gary Shubin ("Gary")*fn1 , and Roberto Garcia ("Garcia," collectively "Defendants"), the purportedly designated beneficiaries of the Annuity, filed a Stipulation for Set Aside of Defaults and Filing of Proposed Answers of Defendants Gary Shubin and James Shubin. (Doc. 52.) James and Gary also filed a Motion to Set Aside Default on November 7, 2012. (Doc. 53)

For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Stipulation to Set Aside James and Gary's Defaults is GRANTED and the Motion to Set Aside Default is thus MOOT. Further, the Court ORDERS Defendants to file a renewed Stipulation for Distribution of Remaining Funds and Dismissal of Action or file separate briefing informing the Court of the current status of this action and why a stipulation is no longer feasible.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

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, Gary, and Garcia 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 Frenso 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 her 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.)

B. Procedural Background

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 ...


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