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Smith v. Union National Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

February 14, 2017

JEANETTA SMITH, A/K/A JEANETTE SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
UNION NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE CO., et al. DEFENDANTS UNION NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. COUNTERCLAIMANT/ THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF
v.
SANDRA CARTER, et al. COUNTER-DEFENDANT/ THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER.

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Partial Motion to Dismiss [156] filed by Defendant Union National Life Insurance, the Motion to Dismiss [161] filed by Defendants Kemper Corporation, Kemper Corporate Services, Inc., and United Insurance Company of America, and the Alternative Motion for Leave to Amend Plaintiff's Complaint (“Motion to Amend”) [169] and Alternative Motion for Leave to Amend Plaintiff's Complaint (“Motion to Amend”) [173] filed by Plaintiff Jeanette Smith. After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds the following:

         1. the Partial Motion to Dismiss [156] should be granted in part and denied in part;

         2. the Motion to Dismiss [161] is well taken and should be granted;

         3. the Motions to Amend [169][173] are not well taken and should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jeanette Smith's (“Plaintiff”) filed her action on January 13, 2015, claiming that she was denied life insurance benefits that were duly owed to her under a $10, 000 life insurance policy taken out by Daisy Carter. This policy was issued by Union National Life Insurance Company (“Union National”), but her complaints about the failure to pay benefits were answered by a letter from “Kemper Home Service Companies.” In her Third Amended Complaint [124], Plaintiff brings claims against Union National, Kemper Corporation (“Kemper”), Kemper Corporate Services, Inc. (“KCS”), and United Insurance Company of America (“United”) (collectively “Defendants”).

         Daisy Carter died on May 30, 2014. Marshall Funeral Home (“Marshall”) initiated a claim on Plaintiff's behalf on June 1, 2014, and Union National represented to Marshall that the proper beneficiary under the policy was Sandra Carter, the decedent's daughter. Plaintiff wrote to Union National and received a letter on July 25, 2014, from Tanya Bolen, “Senior Executive Assistant” for “Kemper Home Service Companies” stating that there was “no paperwork on file stating the beneficiary was to be changed” to Plaintiff. (Third Amended Complaint [124] at ¶ 23.) The policy limits were paid out to Sandra Carter, with $8, 446.58 deducted to pay Marshall for its funeral services and $766.71 deducted for a loan previously taken on the policy. In total, Sandra Carter received $786.71 under the policy. Plaintiff subsequently filed suit in January 2015.

         On June 29, 2016, Union National tendered to Plaintiff a check for $10, 398.96 in additional policy benefits. Plaintiff claims that this amount is insufficient and that more benefits are owed to her.

         II. MOTIONS TO DISMISS [156][161]

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC v. La. State, 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010) (punctuation omitted). “To be plausible, the complaint's factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. (punctuation omitted). The Court must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Id. But the Court will not accept as true “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.” Id. Likewise, “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” PSKS, Inc. v. Leegin Creative Leather Prods., Inc., 615 F.3d 412, 417 (5th Cir. 2010) (punctuation omitted). “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

         B. Union National's Partial Motion to Dismiss [156]

         Union National moves to dismiss the three new causes of action in Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint [124]: (1) continuing bad faith, (2) negligent and/or fraudulent misrepresentation and ...


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