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Sidorov v. Transamerica Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 7, 2017

YEGENIY V. SIDOROV, in his individual capacity and as Administrator of the Estate of NATALYA N. NATALYA, Plaintiff,


         Plaintiff Yegeniy V. Sidorov brings this case against Transamerica Life Insurance Company (“Transamerica”) for its alleged misconduct in connection with a life insurance policy it issued on the life of his mother before she was murdered by his step-father. See Compl., ECF No. 1. Sidorov proceeds in his individual capacity and as the administrator of the estate of his mother. Id. Before the court is Transamerica's motion to dismiss the complaint. Mot. to Dismiss (“MTD”), ECF No. 7. Sidorov has not filed an opposition to the motion, but separately moves to amend the complaint, Mot. to Am. (“MTA”), ECF No. 14, which Transamerica opposes. After holding hearings on the motions, and for the reasons discussed below, the court GRANTS the motion to dismiss and GRANTS the request for leave to amend the complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations

         Transamerica Life Insurance Company is the successor-in-interest to Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Company, both of which are defendants here. Compl. ¶ 4. Sidorov is the only child and son of Natalya N. Sidorova, the decedent whose life Transamerica insured. Compl. ¶ 3.

         On January 22, 2010, Natalya's husband, Gerald[1] Schultz, murdered her at a resort hotel in Acapulco de Juarez, Mexico with the help of an accomplice. Id. ¶ 13. Soon after, law enforcement captured Schultz and his accomplice, and they have both been held in a Mexican prison for over six years.[2] Id. ¶¶ 13-14.

         Years before, Schultz purchased six life insurance policies on Natalya's life, including one from Transamerica for $2 million in 2003, each time listing Schultz as the primary beneficiary. Id. ¶¶ 5-9; id. Ex. A (“Transamerica Policy”). Sidorov alleges Transamerica knew or should have known that his mother was over-insured at the time it issued its policy. Id. ¶ 10.

         In 2007, Transamerica began processing a claim Schultz submitted for Natalya's death. Id. ¶ 11. After Schultz then notified Transamerica that Natalya was not deceased, verbally explaining she had “recovered, ” Transamerica closed the pending claim and reinstated the policy. Id. Ex. B. Sidorov alleges Transamerica failed to engage in any investigation of the fraudulent claim or otherwise report it to the California Department of Insurance. Id. ¶ 12.

         On May 27, 2014, Sidorov opened a case in Probate Court for the Sacramento County Superior Court of the State of California, and he was named the administrator of his mother's estate. Id. ¶ 17. On July 29, 2014, after an evidentiary hearing, the probate court determined that Schultz could not share in the assets of the estate under California's “Slayer Statute.”[3] Id. ¶ 19. Transamerica removed the case to this court, deposited interpleader funds in the amount of $2, 236, 327.30 with the clerk, and ceased paying interest on the death benefits it owed under the policy. Id. ¶¶ 25-26; see No. 2:14-CV-02183-JAM-KJN (filed on September 26, 2014). On December 3, 2014, the court remanded the case and transferred the funds back to the probate court. Id. ¶ 28. In 2015, the probate court ordered Transamerica to pay Sidorov the Policy amount, including interest. Id. ¶ 30.

         B. Procedural Background

         On December 30, 2016, Sidorov filed the complaint in this case. Sidorov brings the following claims against Transamerica, each in his individual capacity and in his capacity as the administrator for his mother's estate: (1) Declaratory Relief; (2) Breach of Contract; (3) Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (4) Negligence; and (5) Wrongful Death. Compl. ¶¶ 31-62.

         On February 28, 2017, Transamerica filed the pending motion to dismiss. MTD. The court adopted the parties' stipulation to set March 31 as the extended deadline for Sidorov's opposition. Min. Order, ECF No. 13. On April 14, after Sidorov had not filed any opposition to the motion to dismiss, the court issued an order to show cause asking why Sidorov's non-opposition should not be deemed a waiver of any opposition to the granting of the motion. First Order to Show Cause (“OSC”), ECF No. 18. Sidorov timely filed a response to the court's order. Req. for Relief, ECF No. 21.

         On April 7, 2017, Sidorov filed his motion to amend the complaint. Transamerica timely filed its opposition. Opp'n MTA, ECF No. 20. On May 1, Sidorov filed an untimely reply, providing for the first time a proposed amended complaint.[4] Reply MTA, ECF No. 23; id. Ex. A (Proposed First Am. Compl.).

         The court held a hearing on both motions on May 5, 2017, at which William Palmer appeared for Sidorov and Sandra Weishart appeared for Transamerica. May 5, 2017 Hr'g Mins., ECF No. 24. At hearing, the court granted the parties leave to file supplemental briefing regarding the futility of amendment. Id. On May 19, 2017, Sidorov filed a sur-reply, Sur-Reply, ECF No. 26, and Transamerica filed a response, Resp., ECF No. 27. The court also continued oral argument on the motion to amend. June 30, 2017 Hr'g Mins., ECF No. 30. At that second hearing, the court took both matters under submission. Id.

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS ...

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