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Life Insurance Co. of North America v. Eufracio

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

December 2, 2014

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

ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

DONALD E. O'BRIEN, Senior District Judge.

Before the Court is a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), Docket No. 53, issued by United States Magistrate Judge Leonard T. Strand concerning the Bass Defendants' Motion for Sanctions, Docket No. 49. Also before the Court is Defendant Baas' Motion for Conditional Disbursement of Funds. Docket No. 54.

On November 4, 2014, Judge Strand issued a R&R recommending that the Motion for Sanction be granted. Docket No. 53. Specifically, Judge Strand recommended that a default judgment should be entered against Defendant Erasmo Eufracio for failure to prosecute his case and failing to comply with this Court's prior Orders. Neither party filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation.

I. FACTS

Magistrate Strand set out the relevant facts in this matter. As stated by Judge Strand:

[t]his 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. 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.

Docket No. 53, p. 1-2.

II. STANDARD

Pursuant to statue, this Court's standard of review for a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation is as follows:

A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate [judge].

28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1).

Similarly, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) provides for review of a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation on dispositive motions and prisoner petitions, where objections are made as follows:

The district judge to whom the case is assigned shall make a de novo determination upon the record, or after additional evidence, of any portion of the magistrate judge's disposition to which specific written objection has been made in accordance with this rule. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation decision, ...

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