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Strickland v. Broome

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

March 19, 2018

ELIZABETH L. STRICKLAND, et al., PLAINTIFFS
v.
AMY ALYECE BROOME, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court provided the factual background of this case in its earlier opinion. See Strickland v. Broome, No. 2:16-CV-124-KS-MTP, 2017 WL 4707032, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Oct. 19, 2017). Defendant Amy Alyece Broome filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [53]. For the reasons below, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 56 provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010). “An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. “An issue is ‘genuine' if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Cuadra v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir. 2010).

         The Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009). When deciding whether a genuine fact issue exists, “the court must view the facts and the inference to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. However, “[c]onclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.” Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Waiver

         First, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs waived any claim they may have on the life insurance proceeds upon execution of the Child Custody and Property Settlement Agreement (“CCPSA”) in the Chancery Court. See Exhibit B to Motion for Summary Judgment, Strickland v. Broome, No. 2:16-CV-124-KS-MTP (S.D.Miss. Jan. 19, 2018), ECF No. 54-2. “Waiver is voluntary surrender or relinquishment of some known right, benefit or advantage.” Sentinel Indus. Contracting Corp. v. Kimmins Indus. Serv. Corp., 743 So.2d 954, 964 (Miss. 1999).

         Defendant argues that the following provision constitutes a waiver of Plaintiffs' right to receive any of the life insurance proceeds:

The wife and husband mutually agree and hereby waive and relinquish any and all right and claim in and to any and all property owned, or hereafter acquired by each other, and waive all right to inherit from each other under the laws of any and all states of the United States of America, or the laws of any other country, and the parties agree that they will make no claims of any kind to any interest to any property which the parties may die ceased and possessed and will make no claim of any kind whatsoever against the estate of each other in the event of their death, and the parties hereto waive and relinquish any and all rights and claims of inheritance, courtesy, descent and distribution and all other rights and claims growing out of the marriage relationship between the parties.

         Exhibit B [54-2], at 1-2. However, the CCPSA also contained the following provision:

“Each party shall maintain the same amount of life insurance and keep the beneficiary the same.”

Id. at 6.

         It is undisputed that at the time the CCPSA was executed, Steve Broome held a $400, 000.00 life insurance policy with Plaintiff Elizabeth Strickland as the beneficiary. See Exhibit E to Response at 5-6, Strickland v. Broome, No. 2:16-CV-124-KS-MTP (S.D.Miss. Feb. 9, 2018), ECF No. 65-5. However, he later changed the beneficiary on the policy to Defendant Amy Broome. Id. at 11-12. Afer Plaintiff raised the issue in a contempt proceeding in Chancery Court, Steve Broome changed the beneficiary to the Elizabeth Lance ...


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