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Scott v. Washington

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

June 20, 2018

LORI SCOTT; ANNIE HUDSON; KELLY SCOTT; and WILLIAM SCOTT, Plaintiffs,
v.
SUSIE SCOTT WASHINGTON, Defendant. SUSIE SCOTT WASHINGTON, Cross Claimant/Counter Plaintiff,
v.
LORI SCOTT; ANNIE HUDSON; KELLY SCOTT; and WILLIAM SCOTT, Cross Defendants/Counter Defendants

          ORDER

          C.J. Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. Procedural History ............................................................................. 2

         II. Factual History .................................................................................. 3

         III. Applicable Law ................................................................................. 5

         IV. Discussion ....................................................................................... 6

         A. Declaratory Judgment ..................................................................... 6

         B. Tortious Interference with Expected Inheritance ..................................... 9

         V. Conclusion ..................................................................................... 12

         This matter is before the Court on Lori Scott, Annie Hudson, Kelly Scott, and William Scott's (collectively “plaintiffs”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. 58). Plaintiffs seek summary judgment as to their action for declaratory relief and seek summary judgment as to liability, damages, and attorneys' fees and costs on their claim for tortious interference with inheritance. (Doc. 58, at 1). Plaintiffs do not seek summary judgment on the punitive damages portion of their tortious interference claim. (Id.). Defendant Susie Scott Washington timely filed her resistance to plaintiffs' motion. (Doc. 62).

         I.PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case began as an interpleader action with Todd Micou, Cynthia Scott, and all parties reflected in the case style named as defendants. (Doc. 2). On April 12, 2017, Susie Scott Washington (“defendant”) brought a cross claim against Cynthia Scott, Todd Micou, Lori Scott, Annie Hudson, Kelly Scott, and William Scott. (Doc. 14). Cynthia Scott and Todd Micou failed to make an appearance, and a default judgment was ultimately entered against them, in their capacities as both defendants and cross defendants. (Docs. 38, 46, 57).

         On August 14, 2017, Lori Scott, Annie Hudson, Kelly Scott, and William Scott were substituted as plaintiffs in this case, and the interpleader plaintiff was terminated. Defendant's cross claim was unresolved at the time the plaintiffs were substituted. On September 21, 2017, defendant brought a counterclaim against plaintiffs. (Doc. 51). This counterclaim appears to be the same, in all material respects, as the previously filed and, as of yet, unresolved cross claim. Further, it appears that defendant brought the counterclaim only because plaintiffs amended their complaint, which prompted defendant to amend her answer and replead her claims. (Docs. 50-51). In short, it appears to the Court that defendant's cross claim and her counterclaim should be viewed as one and the same, although the counterclaim would reflect an updated version of the cross claim. The Court has not been called upon to resolve the issue of these multiple claims existing by different names, however, and the Court will not presently do so. As such, defendant's cross claim exists independently of her counterclaim and the parties are, therefore, properly styled above.

         II.FACTUAL HISTORY

         This case has a complex factual background, and the Court finds it unnecessary to discuss many of the factual nuances presented. Further, the parties disagree as to many of the facts. It is agreed, however, that Bennie Scott, Jr. (“Bennie Scott”) was covered under a life insurance policy and, upon his death on January 30, 2017, the life insurance benefits became payable. (Docs. 58-2, at 1-2; 62-1, at 1). At the time of Bennie Scott's death, the beneficiary designation for the policy reflected defendant as the beneficiary of the policy. (Id.). This beneficiary designation was made on January 22, 2017, and no prior beneficiary designations had been made. (Id.). In the absence ...


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