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.

American General Life Insurance Co. v. Hannah

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

April 11, 2014

AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
EMMA M. HANNAH; HEATHER NAKOLE HANNAH; LETOYA JA'KIA HANNAH; JAMEELA VERNAY HANNAH; and JASMINE KIARRA HANNAH, by and through her mother and general guardian, Janice H. Hannah, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

GLEN H. DAVIDSON, District Judge.

The case sub judice is an interpleader action filed by Plaintiff American General Life Insurance Company ("Plaintiff"), pursuant to Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 1335, to determine the rights of the defendants to life insurance policy proceeds. The interpleaded fund amounts to $250, 000 plus interest. Presently before the Court are two motions: a motion for summary judgment [16] filed by Defendants Heather Nakole Hannah, LeToya Ja'Kia Hannah, Jameela Vemay Hannah, and Jasmine Kiarra Hannah, by and through her mother and general guardian, Janice H. Hannah (collectively, the "Other Defendants"), as well as a motion for judgment on the pleadings [23] filed by Defendant Emma M. Hannah ("Hannah"). Upon due consideration, the Court finds that both motions should be denied.

A. Factual and Procedural Background

Apparently, at the time of his death, Winfred Lee Hannah (the "Decedent") had two life insurance policies. One life insurance policy was issued by Primerica Life Insurance Company in the amount of $55, 000, by the terms of which the Decedent's wife, Hannah, was designated primary beneficiary and no contingent beneficiaries were named. See Winston Cnty. Ch. Ct. Final J. [16-17] at 2 ¶ 6. The second life insurance policy was issued by the Old Line Life Insurance Company of America, of which Plaintiff is the successor in interest, in the amount of $250, 000, by the terms of which Hannah was designated primary beneficiary and "All Children of [the Decedent]" were listed as contingent beneficiaries. See Pl.'s Compl. [1] ¶¶ I, VIII; Old Line Life Ins. Policy No. MM0010249 [1] at 13; Policy Appl. [1] at 30.

The second life insurance policy is the subject of the present action. The subject policy was issued on September 3, 1999. See Old Line Life Ins. Policy No. MMOOI0249 [1] at 13. On June 27, 2001, the Decedent died from thermal burn injuries sustained when boiling water was poured on him. Pl.'s Compl. [1] ¶ IX; Hannah's Answer [8] ¶ IX; Decedent's Death Certificate [1] at 32. On March 27, 2002, the grand jury of the Circuit Court of Winston County indicted Hannah for the felony crime ofmurder. The indictment charged that Hannah

did wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously[, ] and without authority of law kill and murder [the Decedent], a human being, while engaged in the commission of the felony crime of aggravated assault upon [the Decedent], without any design to effect the death of [the Decedent], by burning and scalding [the Decedent] by pouring hot water on him, against the peace and dignity of the State of Mississippi.

Winston Cnty. Cir. Ct. Indictment [16-3] at 1. On December 11, 2002, Hannah's murder trial commenced. Before any witnesses were called, Hannah expressed her desire to enter a plea of guilty to the lesser included offense of manslaughter. Subsequently, the district attorney stated the factual basis of the charge:

[T]he State would prove at trial that [Hannah]... did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously[, ] and without authority of law, kill and murder [the Decedent] in a manner that could have been considered murder or possibly manslaughter. We would prove at trial in this case that she did, in fact, throw a boiler ofboiling water on [the Decedent], which, in fact, resulted In his death approximately 21 days later.

Hannah's Plea Colloquy Tr. [16-15] at 8-9. This exchange followed:

THE COURT: You've heard what the State would intend to prove if this case went on to trial. In other words, if we went ahead and had the trial today, that is what-his intentions would be to prove that. Do you understand that?
[HANNAH]: Yes.
THE COURT: You've heard what he said. Did you do those things?
[HANNAH]: I-no, I didn't. But yeah, I heard what he said.
THE COURT: You didn't do it.
[HANNAH]: No. I can't prove that I didn't do it.
THE COURT: I can't take your plea.

ld. at 9. Accordingly, Hannah's trial resumed. After the first witness testified, Hannah withdrew her previous plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty to the lesser included offense of manslaughter. See id. at 10. The court stated that Hannah understood she would be accepting the same factual basis for her plea that she had previously rejected, and Hannah agreed. ld. at 10-11. The court accepted her plea to the lesser included charge, convicted her of manslaughter, [1] and sentenced her to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Winston Cnty. Cir. Ct. Judgment [16-4] at 1.

Subsequently, Hannah challenged her manslaughter conviction. First, on December 11, 2002, she filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of Winston County which the circuit court denied. See Hannah v. State, 943 So.2d 51, 52 (Miss. Ct. App. 2006) [16-12] at 1. Second, Hannah appealed that denial to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. See id. The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court, finding no merit to Hannah's arguments. See id. Upon review, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the court of appeals and the circuit court and remanded Hannah's case to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing on Hannah's claims as to assistance of counsel and the voluntariness of her guilty plea. See Miss. Sup.Ct. On Mot. for Reh'g [16-13] at 11. On remand, the circuit court held an evidentiary hearing, during which Hannah withdrew her motion for post-conviction relief. See Winston Cnty. Cir. Ct. Order Dismissing Mot. for Post-Conviction Relief [16-5] at 3. Then, in 2009, Emma filed a second petition for post-conviction relief in the circuit court, alleging newly discovered evidence on the involuntariness of the withdrawal of her first petition for post-conviction relief. See Hannah v. State, 49 S. 3d 654, 655 (Miss. Ct. App. 2010) [16-6] at 1. The circuit court denied the motion as non-meritorious, and the Mississippi Court of Appeals affinned that decision. See id. Finally, on November 13, 2007, Hannah filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in federal district court. On June 12, 2009, Judge Michael P. Mills adopted the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation denying Hannah's motion for post-conviction relief for failure to exhaust state remedies and further finding that Hannah "willingly, deliberately, knowingly[, ] and with the advice of counsel terminated the state post-conviction action and agreed to accept her sentence." See Report & Recommendation [16-9] at 5; Final Judgment Adopting Report & Recommendation [16-10] at 1. Hannah did not appeal this ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. She has exhausted all avenues of post-conviction relief and has now finished serving her sentence.

Approximately one month before Judge Mills entered his ruling on Hannah's § 2254 petition, Defendants Heather Nakole Hannah and LeToya Ja'Kia Hannah, two of the Decedent's children who were appointed and acting as co-administratrixes of the Decedent's estate, filed a complaint in the Chancery Court of Winston County to determine the Decedent's heirs at law. See Winston Cnty. Ch. Ct. J. Adjudicating Heirs at Law [1] at 8. The chancery court ruled that the Decedent, who died ...


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.