United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Strike Answer to
Third Amended Complaint (“Motion to Strike”)
 filed by Plaintiff Jeanette Smith and the Motion for
Leave to File Answer (“Motion for Leave”) 
filed by Defendant Union National Life Insurance Company.
After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record,
and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motion for
Leave  is well taken and should be granted. The Court
further finds that the Motion to Strike  should be
denied as moot.
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 , Plaintiff brings claims against
Union National, Kemper Corporation (“Kemper”),
Kemper Corporate Services, Inc. (“KCS”), and
United Insurance Company of America (“United”)
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  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.
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. Plaintiff filed her original Complaint  on
January 13, 2015. She amended this complaint three times,
filing her Amended Complaint  on January 15, 2015 and her
Second Amended Complaint  and Third Amended Complaint
 on September 16, 2016. The action was stayed on October
13, 2016, and all case management deadlines were suspended.
(See Text Only Order, October 13, 2016.)
February 14, 2017, the Court entered its Order  granting
in part and denying in part Union National's Motion to
Dismiss  and granting Kemper, KCS, and United's
Motion to Dismiss . On February 24, 2017, the Court
lifted its stay of the proceedings and permitted parties to
conduct discovery. (See Order  at p. 3.) No new
case management deadlines have been set by the Court.
March 23, 2017, Union National filed its Answer  to
Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint . Plaintiff
moved to strike the Answer  because it was untimely.
Union National subsequently filed its Motion for Leave .
Motion for Leave 
responsive pleading must be served within fourteen days of a
denial of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(4)(A).
If a responsive pleading is not filed within this time,
“the court may, for good cause, extend the time . . .
on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed
to act because of excusable neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
6(b)(1). The Fifth Circuit has noted that the district court
“enjoys broad discretion to grant or deny an
extension” and that “the excusable neglect
standard is intended and proven to be quite elastic in its
application.” Salts v. Epps, 676 F.3d 468, 474
(5th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
The circuit court points to four guiding factors in using
this discretion: “(1) the possibility of prejudice to
the other parties, (2) the length of the applicant's
delay and its impact on the proceeding, (3) the reason for
the delay and whether it was within the control of the
movant, and (4) whether the movant acted in good
faith.” Id. (internal quotations and citations
National's Answer  was filed either 23 days or 13
days late, depending on whether the fourteen-day deadline
began to run when the Court issued it ruling on the Motion to
Dismiss  or when the Court lifted the stay on the
proceedings. The Court need not decide which is proper, as it
would not change its analysis.
possibility of prejudice from allowing Union National to file
its Answer  is low, as nothing in the pleading changes
the course of the litigation. Plaintiff attempts to argue
that the additional affirmative defenses prejudice her, but
the only new defense pleaded is mistake, which is reasonable
at this stage of the litigation, as all parties now appear to
agree that Plaintiff was the proper beneficiary of the
policy, a fact which was initially denied by Union National
because it could not locate the change of beneficiary form.
length of delay, whether 13 or 23 days, has a negligible
impact on these proceedings, as no new scheduling deadlines
have been set. The reason for the delay was Union
National's attorney calendaring error, which was not
within the control of Union National and which has been found
by other courts in this circuit to be excusable neglect.
See, e.g., Stotter v. Univ. of Tex. at San Antonio,