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Life Insurance Company of North America v. Eufracio

United States District Court, Northern District of Iowa, Central Division

November 4, 2014

LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ERASMO EUFRACIO, CHARLENE BAAS and RONALD BAAS, Defendants

For Life Insurance Company of North America, Plaintiff: Daniel P Kresowik, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stanley, Lande & Hunter, Davenport, IA USA; Daniel Keenan Ryan, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Chicago, Il; Michael T Berger, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN USA.

For Charlene Baas, Ronald Baas, Defendants: Steven E Ballard, LEAD ATTORNEY, Leff Law Firm, LLP, Iowa City, IA USA.

Erasmo Eufracio, Defendant, Pro se, Nuevo Leon.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LEONARD T. STRAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 49) for sanctions filed October 15, 2014, by defendants Charlene Baas and Ronald Baas (Mr. and Mrs. Baas). They seek sanctions in the form of a default judgment against their co-defendant, Erasmo Eufracio. The motion is supported by the affidavit of Mrs. Baas. Doc. No. 52-1.

Mr. Eufracio's resistance was due November 3, 2014. See Local Rules 6, 7(e). No resistance has been filed. The Honorable Donald E. O'Brien, Senior United States District Judge, has referred the motion for me for the preparation of a report and recommended disposition. In light of Mr. Eufracio's failure to file a timely resistance, the motion is fully submitted.

RELEVANT BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural context has been described in prior orders ( e.g., Doc. Nos. 43, 48). I will provide only an abbreviated version here. This is an interpleader case, commenced on May 7, 2013, by plaintiff Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) after it was confronted with competing claims to the proceeds of a life insurance policy (the Policy). Mr. and Mrs. Baas state that they are the parents of the insured decedent, Nicole Baas, and that Nicole was unmarried and had no children at the time of her death. Doc. No. 52-1 at 1-2. By contrast, Mr. Eufracio has contended that he was legally married to Nicole when she died. Doc. No. 12 at 2-3. Under the terms of the Policy, if Mr. Eufracio is Nicole's surviving spouse, the proceeds would be payable to him. If not, then they would be payable to Mr. and Mrs. Baas.

Mr. and Mrs. Baas filed an answer (Doc. No. 8) to LINA's complaint on June 6, 2013. Mr. Eufracio filed a pro se answer (Doc. No. 12) to the complaint on October 16, 2013.[1] Mr. Eufracio has done nothing since. As noted in my prior order (Doc. No. 48), he did not attend the October 14, 2014, final pretrial conference. Nor did he seek leave to participate by telephone or take any of the actions in advance of the conference that were required by the Trial Management Order (TMO) (Doc. No. 26).

Because Mr. Eufracio did not participate in the final pretrial conference, trial was continued to November 7, 2014, to give Mr. and Mrs. Baas an opportunity to file an appropriate motion and Mr. Eufracio an opportunity to resist it. See Doc. Nos. 48, 51. The motion was promptly filed October 15, 2014. Mr. and Mrs. Baas seek sanctions in the form of a default judgment against Mr. Eufracio, along with an order directing the Clerk to pay the remaining, deposited Policy proceeds to them.

ANALYSIS

As noted above, and consistent with his actions over the past year, Mr. Eufracio has done nothing to resist or respond to the present motion. The motion could be granted on that basis alone. See Local Rule 7(f) (" If no timely resistance to a motion is filed, the motion may be granted without notice."). However, because granting the motion would be case-dispositive, I will address its merits.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 ...


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