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Great American Life Insurance Co. v. Tanner

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

December 12, 2017

GREAT AMERICAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY PLAINTIFF
v.
AVA MITCHELL TANNER, ALITA MARGARET MITCHELL, and CRAIG CHEATHAM DEFENDANTS

          Before the Court is Phyllis Mitchell Fernandez's “Motion to Intervene.” Doc. #139.

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I Relevant Procedural History

         On April 5, 2016, Great American Life Insurance Company filed an interpleader complaint in this Court pursuant to Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to determine whether Ava Mitchell Tanner, Alita Margaret Mitchell, Craig J. Cheatham, or anyone else, is the proper recipient of two annuities issued to Don Mitchell before his death. Doc. #1. On May 27, 2016, Alita[1] and Craig answered the complaint and Alita filed a crossclaim against Ava. Doc. #9. In her crossclaim, Alita alleges that “[w]ithout a legal basis or right, Ava Mitchell Tanner has interfered with Alita Margaret Mitchell's right to annuity death benefits by submitting a false and scandalous letter to [Great American]” and “[a]s a result of her malicious interference, ” Ava “is liable for the damage Alita Margaret Mitchell has incurred ….” Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.

         On June 9, 2016, Ava answered Great American's complaint and Alita's crossclaim. Doc. #13; Doc. #14. On June 30, 2016, Ava filed an amended answer to Alita's crossclaim and asserted crossclaims of her own against Alita and Craig. Doc. #24. Ava's crossclaims allege, in part:

Alita Cheatham and Craig Cheatham exerted undue influence over Don Mitchell to persuade him to disinherit his daughters, the natural objects of his bounty, and to convey his assets to them. They used undue influence to covert the following property,
Regions Bank CD $150, 000,
Prudential Life Insurance policy for $186, 000,
Great American Life Insurance annuities for $120, 153.25 and $117, 333.54,
Oil Interest of unknown value.

Id. at ¶ 41.

         On August 30, 2016, Phyllis Mitchell Fernandez filed a motion seeking “leave to intervene as a plaintiff in the cross claim filed by her sister [Ava] against the current defendants to the cross claim, Alita Cheatham Mitchell and Craig Cheatham.” Doc. #43. The Court denied the motion to intervene because the motion failed to adhere to the local rules of this Court. Doc. #138. On September 1, 2017, Phyllis renewed her motion to intervene[2] in Ava's crossclaim of undue influence as it relates to the Prudential Life Insurance Policy and a trust which owns some mineral interest. Doc. #139. On September 14, 2017, Alita and Craig filed a response to the renewed motion to intervene. Doc. #143. On September 18, 2017, the Court held a telephonic conference regarding the renewed motion. Doc. #145. Three days later, Phyllis filed a reply in support of her motion to intervene. Doc. #147.

         II Discussion

         In her renewed motion to intervene, Phyllis asserts that she “was a 50% beneficiary of the Prudential policy before it was changed;” that she was a beneficiary of a trust which owns some mineral interest and other assets; and that “[u]nless [she] is a party to the case, her interest in these identified properties may be impaired or impeded.” Doc. #139 at 2. Phyllis contends that she ...


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