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Stonebridge Life Insurance Co. v. Kissinger

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 19, 2015

STONEBRIDGE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERRY M. KISSINGER, et al., Defendants

For Plaintiff: Kevin J. Thornton, Esq., Cooper Levenson, P.A., Atlantic City, New Jersey.

For Diane M. Latko, Defendant: Timothy J. Buckley, Esq., Hammonton, New Jersey.

OPINION

Page 623

NOEL L. HILLMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

In this interpleader action, Plaintiff, Stonebridge Life Insurance Company, contends that it has been presented with multiple claims for the proceeds of a life insurance policy of its insured, Randall M. Latko, Sr. (hereafter, the " insured" ), who passed away on November 24, 2013. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion [Doc. No. 20] for entry of an Order (1) requiring Defendants to interplead their rights to the funds Plaintiff deposited with the Registry of the Court,[1] (2) restraining Defendants from instituting any action against Plaintiff to recover the sum, (3) discharging Plaintiff from liability, and (4) granting an award of attorney's fees and costs. The only defendant who has appeared in this matter is Diane M. Latko, the ex-wife of the insured.[2] Ms. Latko opposes the present motion to the extent Plaintiff seeks an award of attorney's fees and costs, but does not otherwise object to the relief sought by Plaintiff.

The Court has considered the submissions of the parties and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is granted in its entirety.

I. JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335(a),

Page 624

because two of the adverse claimants are of diverse citizenship as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and Plaintiff has deposited the life insurance proceeds, which are greater than $500, into the Registry of the Court.

II. BACKGROUND

According to the allegations in the complaint, the insured purchased a life insurance policy in the sum of $50,000 from JCPenney Life Insurance Company on or about November 15, 1991. (Compl. ¶ 17.) The sole beneficiary under the JCPenney Policy was the insured's daughter, Sherry Kissinger.[3] (Id.) On January 2, 1993, the insured executed a " Change of Beneficiary Form" and named his then-wife, Defendant Diane Latko, as the beneficiary under the JCPenney Policy. (Id. ¶ 21.) Subsequently, Plaintiff, a life insurance company, succeeded to the rights and duties of JCPenney Life Insurance Company and issued to the insured a Stonebridge Life Insurance Policy in the sum of $50,000. (Id. ¶ 18.) The insured and Diane Latko divorced on or about June 9, 2006. (Id. ¶ 22.)

The insured passed away on November 24, 2013. (Id. ¶ 19.) On November 30, 2013, the insured's daughter, Ms. Kissinger, submitted a Life Claim Statement and an Affidavit of Heirship to Plaintiff requesting to be paid the Death Benefit under the insurance policy. (Id. ¶ 23.) Shortly thereafter, on January 10, 2014, the insured's ex-wife, Diane Latko, submitted a Life Claim Statement and an Affidavit of Heirship requesting to be paid the Death Benefit. (Id. ¶ 24.) Additionally, Diane Latko is the executrix of the insured's estate and claims to be a creditor of the estate. (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff contends that it is a mere stakeholder, and thus filed this action seeking to deposit the Death Benefit with the Court so that the Court may resolve the competing claims.

Plaintiff filed the present motion seeking, inter alia, an order permitting Plaintiff to pay the Death Benefit into the Court's Registry and an award of attorney's fees and costs. As noted above, the Court entered an Order on January 28, 2015 directing Plaintiff to submit the insurance proceeds to the Court's Registry. Plaintiff complied with the Court Order, and $50,304.00 was deposited into the Registry of the Court on February 9, 2015. (Clerk's Certificate of Cash Deposit [Doc. No. 26].) The only aspect of Plaintiff's motion ...


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