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Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Gicana

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 3, 2018

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-in-Interpleader,
v.
BAMBI GICANA; and ARACELI MALONEY, Defendants-in-Interpleader. AND RELATED CROSS AND COUNTER CLAIMS

          ORDER RE: MALONEY'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AS TO “CROSS-CLAIMS” OF BAMBI GICANA [54]

          HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff-in-Interpleader Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”) filed the instant Action due to Defendants-in-Interpleader Bambi Gicana (“Gicana”) and Araceli Maloney's (“Maloney”) competing claims to funds from the AT&T Group Life Insurance Program (the “Plan”). See Compl., ECF No. 1. The Plan is an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), sponsored by AT&T, and funded by a group life insurance policy issued by MetLife. Id. ¶ 6. Currently before the Court is Maloney's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to “Cross-Claims” of Bambi Gicana (“Motion”) [54]. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court DENIES Maloney's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. State Court Action

         On August 22, 2016, Gicana and Eric Jose Quinlan Martinez filed a Petition in Los Angeles Superior Court (1) to invalidate trust amendments, (2) to invalidate transfers to a fiduciary under trust amendments, (3) for a constructive trust, and (4) for removal of trustee, account, and appointment of successor trustee. Maloney's Req. for Judicial Notice (“RJN”), Ex. A (“Probate Pet.”), ECF No. 55. Maloney moved to compel arbitration, id., Ex. B, and on January 25, 2017, the state court ordered the first three claims to arbitration and stayed the fourth claim pending the result of arbitration, Gicana's Req. for Judicial Notice, Ex. 1 (“Min. Order”) at 2, ECF No. 57. Partly because of the pendency of the instant federal Action, Gicana moved to reconsider the state court's ruling on March 13, 2017. RJN, Ex. E. The state court declined to reconsider its ruling, noting that “the determinative facts [between the actions] are completely different.” Min. Order 4.

         B. Federal Court Action

         On November 8, 2016, MetLife filed its Complaint-in-Interpleader [1]. Gicana filed Crossclaims [24] against Maloney on March 15, 2017, alleging Maloney is liable for (1) fraud in the inception, (2) conversion, (3) undue influence, (4) breach of fiduciary duty, and (5) fraud.

         Maloney filed the instant Motion [54] on February 6, 2018. Gicana timely opposed [56], and Maloney timely replied [62].

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) states that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate “when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2007)(quoting Fajardo v. Cty. of L.A., 179 F.3d 698, 699 (9th Cir. 1999)). While the allegations of the non-moving party must be accepted as true, any allegations made by the moving party that have been denied or contradicted are assumed to be false. MacDonald v. Grace Church Seattle, 457 F.3d 1079, 1081 (9th Cir. 2006); Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989)(citing Doleman v. Meiji Mut. Life Ins. Co., 727 F.2d 1480, 1482 (9th Cir. 1984)). The facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of that party. Living Designs, Inc. v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 431 F.3d 353, 360 (9th Cir. 2005). Dismissal is proper “only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.” Turner v. Cook, 362 F.3d 1219, 1225 (9th Cir. 2004)(quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)).

         “[J]udgment on the pleadings is improper when the district court goes beyond the pleadings to resolve an issue; such a proceeding must properly be treated as a motion for summary judgment.” Hal Roach Studios, 896 F.2d at 1550 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c)). However, the court may consider facts subject to judicial notice. Heliotrope Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 981 n.18 (9th Cir. 1999).

         B. Analysis

         1. Requests for ...


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