United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Payment of Interest,
Attorneys' Fees, and Costs. For the reasons below, the
Motion is denied.
October 18, 2016, Duane Childers died when he crashed his
motorcycle into a bridge. At that time, Childers was enrolled
in his employer's group life insurance plan. The Guardian
Life Insurance Company of America (“Guardian”)
administered the plan.
plan included two different types of benefits: (1) life
insurance and (2) accidental death and dismemberment
(“AD&D”). For life insurance benefits, a
claimant had to show only that an insured died. But for
AD&D benefits, a claimant had to provide proof of loss
showing that death was the “direct result of the
accident, independent of all other causes.” The plan
was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §1001, et
had named his wife Misty Shavor as his sole beneficiary.
Following his death, Childers's mother and son, Cecilia
Giles and Sean Childers (“the Giles Defendants”),
challenged the validity of this designation. Guardian
determined that life insurance benefits were payable but, in
light of the competing claims, filed this interpleader on
December 22, 2016.
later, the parties reached a settlement agreement as to how
they would divide life insurance benefits. On August 1, 2017,
this Court granted the parties' Agreed Motion for
Interpleader, and Guardian paid $341, 000 of life insurance
benefits, including approximately $20, 600 of interest.
had not yet determined whether AD&D benefits were also
payable. Beginning in November 2016, Guardian sent Defendants
letters, requesting additional proof of loss information,
including the medical examiner's report and toxicology
report. Guardian advised Defendants that they were
responsible for providing adequate proof of loss.
January 26, 2017, the 90-day deadline to a make a claim
determination, pursuant to ERISA, expired with no decision by
Guardian. Five days later, Guardian notified Defendants that
it needed a 90-day extension to review the claim.
March 2017, Defendants raised separate counterclaims seeking
AD&D benefits. But Defendants agreed to stay their
counterclaims until completion of the administrative claims
15, 2017, Defense counsel gave verbal permission to extend
the deadline beyond the 180 days, as all parties were
awaiting the toxicology report and medical examiner's
report. Later that month, Shavor's counsel informed
Guardian that the medical examiner said the toxicology report
was not ready. On August 7, 2017, the medical examiner again
advised that the results would not be ready for another 14
days. Guardian eventually received a toxicology report on
August 30, 2017, but no medical evaluation.
of this delay, Guardian filed a Motion to Stay All Deadlines.
On October 5, 2017, Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson held a
telephonic hearing. She issued the stay and directed Guardian
to subpoena the remaining reports, though the examiner had
ignored a previous subpoena issued by Shavor.
October 10, 2017, the medical examiner finally provided his
report. Guardian issued the AD&D benefits, without
interest, to all Defendants on November 2, 2017. Two weeks
later, Defendants jointly filed the instant motion. They seek
prejudgment interest on the AD&D payment from the date of
death on October 18, 2016, to November 2, 2017,
attorneys' fees of $7, 500, and other costs.