Virginia Lawyers Weekly//August 16, 2023
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//August 16, 2023//
Where an interpleader was filed over life insurance proceeds, and the decedent’s husband (who was charged with her death) failed to answer the complaint, judgment was entered in favor of the decedent’s parent.
Life Insurance Company of North America, or LINA, filed this interpleader action seeking to ascertain the appropriate beneficiary of life insurance and accident insurance policies issued by LINA to Keira Ware through Ware’s employer. On or about Dec. 12, 2020, Ware and her only children died of sharp force trauma. The death certificates for Ware and her children list their cause of death as homicides. Bryan Richardson, Ware’s husband, was arrested and charged with all three deaths.
When this suit was initiated, Richardson was being held in Texas awaiting trial. Richardson and both of Ware’s parents, Shavonne Quaye and Thomas Lavare Ingram, are named as defendants and possible claimants. Richardson was served on March 7, 2023, but failed to timely answer or otherwise respond to the complaint. On May 12, 2023, the clerk of court entered default against Richardson. Ingram filed his motion for default judgment against Richardson on May 24, 2023.
Before entry of default judgment, the court must determine whether the allegations of the complaint support the relief sought. However, in the context of interpleader actions, the complaint’s allegations do not need evaluation when determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment; “[r]ather, a defendant’s lack of action can be taken as forfeiting a claim to the property in dispute.”
Because in the context of interpleader actions “a defendant’s lack of action can be taken as forfeiting a claim to the property in dispute,” the court concludes that the entry of default judgment against Richardson is appropriate because he failed to respond to the complaint or otherwise assert a claim to the death benefits in a timely manner.
Ingram’s motion for default judgment granted.
Life Insurance Company of North America v. Quaye, Case No. 3:23-cv-130, July 20, 2023. EDVA at Richmond (Lauck). VLW 023-3-412. 6 pp.