Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

National Insurance Crime Bureau v. Wagner

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 30, 2019

NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU, Plaintiff,
v.
DESSIE RENEE WAGNER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR INTERPLEADER

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court are three motions: (1) Plaintiff National Insurance Crime Bureau's (“NICB”) unopposed motion to be exempted from completing a joint status report (MJSR (Dkt. # 15)); (2) NICB's motion for interpleader and dismissal (MFI (Dkt. # 16)); and (3) Defendant Dessie Renee Wagner's motion to continue or to re-note NICB's motion for interpleader and dismissal (MTC (Dkt. # 17)). The court has considered the motions, the parties submissions filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court DENIES NICB's motion to be exempted from completing a joint status report but grants NICB an extension of time to do so, DENIES Ms. Wagner's motion to continue or re-note NICB's motion for interpleader and dismissal, and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part NICB's motion for interpleader and dismissal.

         II. BACKGROUND

         NICB filed its complaint for interpleader and declaratory relief on May 15, 2015. (Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) NICB alleges decedent Scott Laverne Wagner and Ms. D.R. Wagner were married on July 26, 1996. (Id. ¶ 12.) Mr. Wagner was employed by NICB from February 1, 2003, through September 9, 2016. (Id. ¶ 13.) While Mr. Wagner was employed at NICB and while he was married to Ms. D.R. Wagner, he participated in NICB's Employee Savings Plan (“ESP”). (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) On February 3, 2003, Mr. Wagner designated Ms. D.R. Wagner as the primary beneficiary of his ESP. (Id. ¶ 16.) At the same time, Mr. Wagner designated his two adult sons, Defendant Joseph Scott Wagner and Defendant Andrew Wesley Wagner, as the contingent beneficiaries of his ESP, with a 50% designation to each. (Id.)

         On November 27, 2006, Mr. Wagner and Ms. D.R. Wagner's marriage was dissolved. (Id. ¶ 17.) NICB alleges, on information and belief, that Mr. Wagner and Ms. D.R. Wagner agreed, as a part of their dissolution proceedings, that Mr. Wagner would // not pay any of his ESP benefits to Ms. D.R. Wagner and that Mr. Wagner would retain “all pensions, 401k, annuities, investment accounts, or other retirement accounts” in his name. (Id.) However, Mr. Wagner never updated his beneficiary designation form, and the February 3, 2003, form, described above, is the only one that exists. (Id. ¶ 18.)

         On April 26, 2016, Mr. Wagner married Defendant Leslie Ann Wagner. (Id. ¶ 22.) During their marriage, Mr. Wagner participated in NICB's ESP. (Id. ¶ 23.) Mr. Wagner died on July 23, 2017, and as a result, his ESP benefits became payable. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Ms. L.A. Wagner is the personal representative of Mr. Wagner's estate, and she admitted Mr. Wagner's estate to probate in Snohomish County Superior Court under cause number 17-4-0439-31. (Id. ¶ 24.)

         NICB designated Fidelity Management Trust Company (“Fidelity”) as the record-keeper and trustee of its ESP. (Id. ¶ 1.) On November 29, 2017, Fidelity sent Ms. L.A. Wagner a written request for a certified copy of Mr. Wagner's death certificate. (Id. ¶ 25.) On December 15, 2017, Fidelity sent Ms. L.A. Wagner a beneficiary claim form and requested that she obtain the necessary signatures on the form. (Id. ¶ 26.) Fidelity also requested a copy of the marriage certificate to determine Ms. L.A. Wagner's status as a potential beneficiary of Mr. Wagner's ESP. (Id.)

         On or about March 26, 2018, non-party Kirsten Curtis, of the Neil Law Group, in Portland, Oregon, corresponded with Ms. D.R. Wagner regarding Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits. (Id. ¶ 27.) The letter that Ms. Curtis sent to Ms. D.R. Wagner asked Ms. D.R. Wagner to renounce and disclaim any interest in Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits based on Mr. Wagner and Ms. D.R. Wagner's dissolution decree. (Id. ¶ 28.) Ms. D.R. Wagner signed the renunciation letter, dated it March 26, 2018, and returned it to NICB. (Id. ¶ 29.) However, she failed to have the letter notarized. (Id. ¶ 29.)

         On August 27, 2018, NICB received a letter from the attorney for Mr. Wagner's estate and for Ms. L.A. Wagner, as the personal representative of Mr. Wagner's estate, demanding payment of Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits to his estate. (Id. ¶ 30.) NICB sent a letter to the attorney stating that NICB was concerned that the ESP benefits may be a non-probate asset. (Id. ¶ 31.) NICB also noted that, although Ms. D.R. Wagner had signed a waiver, her waiver was not notarized. (Id.)

         The attorney for Mr. Wagner's estate and for Ms. L.A. Wagner, as the personal a representative of Mr. Wagner's estate, filed suit in Snohomish County Court for a ruling concerning the ESP benefits. (See Id. ¶¶ 31-32.) On or about January 3, 2019, Ms. D.R. Wagner filed a motion to dismiss the action. (Id. ¶ 32.) On or about January 10, 2019, the Snohomish County Superior Court granted Ms. D.R. Wagner's motion, ruling that the “employee benefit retirement plan” was not an asset subject to probate. (Id. ¶ 33; see also MFI Resp. Ex. 4 (attaching a copy of order of dismissal, which does not state that grounds upon which the Snohomish County Superior Court granted the motion).) However, the Snohomish County Superior Court did not decide how Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits should be distributed. (See Id. Ex. 2 (attaching email correspondence between counsel in which Ms. D.R. Wagner's counsel stated that he “assume[s] the [Snohomish County Superior] Court can summarily dismiss [the estate's and Ms. L.A. Wagner's lawsuit] on the merits, without having to decide whether the benefit proceeds belong to [Ms. D.R. Wagner] or her children”).)

         On January 12, 2019, NICB received a letter, via Fidelity, from Ms. D.R. Wagner enclosing a copy of the Snohomish County Superior Court's order and demanding payment of the ESP benefits to her. (See Id. ¶ 34.) On January 25, 2019, NICB alerted Ms. D.R. Wagner that both she and Ms. L.A. Wagner had asserted right to Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits. (Id. ¶ 35.)

         On or about April 19, 2019, Ms. D.R. Wagner sent an email to NICB requesting a summary plan description and the beneficiary distribution. (Id. ¶ 36.) NICB understood this and Ms. D.R. Wagner's previous correspondence to mean that Ms. D.R. Wagner believes that she is the sole beneficiary of Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits. (Id.) Due to the conflict between Ms. D.R. Wagner and Ms. L.A. Wagner, NICB corresponded separately with each of them. (Id.) NICB now understands that there may be conflicting claims between Ms. D.R. Wagner; Ms. L.A. Wagner; Mr. Wagner's estate; Ms. L.A. Wagner, as the personal representative of Mr. Wagner's estate; and Ms. D.R. Wagner's sons. (Id. ¶ 38.)

         NICB states that it is merely a stakeholder and claims no beneficial interest in the Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits and that it is “ready and willing” to pay Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits to the individual legally entitled to them. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40.) NICB avers that it cannot pay Mr. Wagner's ESP benefits without assuming responsibility for determining questions of law and fact and without incurring the risk of being subject to costs and expenses in defending itself in a multiplicity of lawsuits or the possibility of multiple liabilities for the ESP benefits. (Id. ¶ 41.) On May 23, 2019, NICB filed proofs of service upon Mr. A.W. Wagner; Ms. L.A. Wagner; Ms. L.A. Wagner, as the personal representative of Mr. Wagner's estate; Mr. Wagner's estate; Mr. J.S. Wagner; and Ms. D.R. Wagner. (See Decls. of Serv. (Dkt. ## 3-8.) To date, Ms. D.R. Wagner ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.