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Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company v. Wade

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

May 3, 2019

COLONIAL LIFE & ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ALETHEA BURKE WADE, SERBRINA WADE, LEKISHA WADE, and FRANK HOLLINGSWORTH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SIM LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company ("Colonial Life") filed this interpleader action seeking a determination of which of several claimants is entitled to the proceeds of decedent Kendric Wade's life insurance policy and accompanying rider (the "Life Policy and Rider") and accident policy (the "Accident Policy") (collectively, the "Colonial Life Policies").[1] Kendric purchased the Life Policy and Rider from Colonial Life in 2012 and designated his mother, Helen Wade, as the beneficiary.[2] Kendric purchased the Accident Policy from Colonial Life in 2014 and designated his sisters, Lekisha and Serbrina Wade, as co-equal beneficiaries.[3] Kendric married Alethea Wade in 2 015 and never amended the Colonial Life Policies to designate her as a beneficiary.[4] Kendric was shot and killed in December of 2 017.[5] Helen pre-deceased Kendric, and the terms of the Life Policy and Rider made Kendric's estate the primary beneficiary.[6]

         Alethea, Lekisha, Serbrina, and Kendric's father, Frank Hollingsworth, [7] are claimants on the Life Policy and Rider.[8]Alethea, Lekisha, and Serbrina are claimants on the Accident Policy.[9] Alethea claims that she is entitled to a share of the proceeds of the Colonial Life Policies despite not being named as a beneficiary because some portion of the Policies is community property under Texas law and that premiums were paid on the Policies with community funds until Kendric died.[10] Pending before the court is Defendants Lekisha Wade and Serbrina Wade's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss ("Lekisha and Serbrina's Motion") (Docket Entry No. 27).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion attacks the sufficiency of the pleadings and is "appropriate when a defendant attacks the complaint because it fails to state a legally cognizable claim." Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001), cert, denied sub nom., Cloud v. United States, 122 S.Ct. 2665 (2002') . "The only way to test the merit of a claim if matters outside the bounds of the complaint must be considered is by way of motion for summary judgment." Murphy v. Inexco Oil Co., 611 F.2d 570, 573 (5th Cir. 1980) . "In that event, even if a motion to dismiss has been filed, the court must convert it into a summary judgment proceeding and afford the plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to a summary judgment motion by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 56." Id.

         Colonial Life was dismissed from this action, and the only issue remaining is the proper division of the proceeds of the Colonial Life Policies among the claimants.[11] Lekisha and Serbrina's Motion asks the court to address the merits of Alethea's claim to the proceeds of the Colonial Life Policies.[12] Their Motion is therefore properly characterized as a motion for summary judgment rather than a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Because Lekisha and Serbrina filed their Motion as a motion to dismiss, Alethea has not yet been afforded a reasonable opportunity to respond with all material made pertinent by Rule 56.[13] The court therefore ORDERS that Lekisha and Serbrina's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss be converted into a summary judgment proceeding. Alethea may respond by May 23, 2019. Althea shall submit evidence of the dates and amounts of all Policy premiums that she contends were paid with community funds. Lekisha and Serbrina may file a reply by June 6, 2019.

---------

Notes:

[1]See First Amended Complaint for Interpleader, Docket Entry No. 17, pp. 4-6.

[2]See id. at 3.

[3]See id.

[4]See id.

[5]See id.

[6]See id. at 4.

[7]Frank Hollingsworth has not entered an ...


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