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Brimberry v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 20, 2014

P. Kellie C. Brimberry, Plaintiff,
v.
The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, and Does 1 through 50, inclusive Defendant. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, a Wisconsin corporation, Counter-Claimants,
v.
P. Kellie C. Brimberry, an individual; Fiduciary Trust International of California, a California corporation; and Does 1 through 10, inclusive, Counter-Defedants.

ORDER RE: COUNTER- DEFENDANT FIDUCIARY TRUST INTERNATIONAL OF CALIFORNIA'S MOTION TO JOIN AS COUNTER- DEFENDANTS FIDUCIARY TRUST COMPANY INTERNATIONAL AND FRANKLIN TEMPLETON COMPANIES, LLC [94]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Counter-Defendant Fiduciary Trust International of California's ("Fiduciary") Motion to Join as Counter-Defendants Fiduciary Trust Company International ("FTCI") and Franklin Templeton Companies, LLC ("Franklin") [94]. The Court, having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: The Court DENIES Fiduciary's Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Prior to Kurt Brimberry's ("Mr. Brimberry") death in 2012, The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company ("Northwestern") issued two life insurance policies ("Policies") to Mr. Brimberry, which specified that in the event of his death, the Policies' benefits would be given to a beneficiary as designated by Mr. Brimberry. Mr. Brimberry died in August 2012 of unknown causes. At the time of his death, the Policies provided a net benefit of $3, 501, 691.46, and the sole designated beneficiary under the Policies was P. Kellie C. Brimberry ("Mrs. Brimberry"). On August 31, 2012, Mrs. Brimberry notified Northwestern of a claim for benefits under the Policies. While investigating Mrs. Brimberry's claim, Northwestern was contacted by counsel for Fiduciary, the company for which Mr. Brimberry had worked from November 2001 until his termination on August 14, 2012. Fiduciary's counsel asserted that Fiduciary had an interest in the benefits payable under the Policies because Mr. Brimberry had embezzled funds from Fiduciary during his employment there and had used the embezzled funds to pay some or all of the Policies' premiums.On November 29, 2012, Fiduciary's counsel wrote to Northwestern on behalf of both Fiduciary and Mrs. Brimberry, making a joint demand that Northwestern stay further processing of their separate claims for benefits while Fiduciary and Mrs. Brimberry attempted to informally resolve their competing claims.

Mrs. Brimberry instigated the present Action against Northwestern in California state court on December 5, 2012, for failure to pay benefits due to Mrs. Brimberry under the Policies [1]. On January 8, 2013, Northwestern removed the Action to this Court [1] and filed a Counterclaim in Interpleader pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 against Mrs. Brimberry, Fiduciary, and Does 1 through 10, alleging that Northwestern was unable to determine which of the claimants, as between Mrs. Brimberry and Fiduciary, was entitled to policy benefits [3]. Although Mrs. Brimberry and Northwestern subsequently stipulated to the dismissal of Mrs. Brimberry's Complaint against Northwestern [23, 24], Northwestern's counterclaim in interpleader remains.

Fiduciary filed the instant Motion to Join as Counter-Defendants FTCI and Franklin on January 14, 2014 [94]. Concurrent with the Motion to Join, Fiduciary filed an Ex Parte Application to Shorten Time for Hearing to January 29, 2014 [95], which this Court denied [101].

Fiduciary's Motion to Join as Counter-Defendants FTCI and Franklin was set for hearing on February 11, 2014, and was taken under submission on February 5, 2014 [127].

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 describes the requirements for determining whether an absent party is necessary in an Action:

(a) Persons Required to Be Joined if Feasible.

(1) Required Party. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined as a party if:
(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the ...

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