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Unum Life Insurance Co. v. Sides

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

November 13, 2014

UNUM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BROOKE BEDARD SIDES; CASEY R. SIDES; MICHELLE T. SMITH as Guardian Ad Litem for COLLIN QUIN SIDES and TAYLOR BROOKE SIDES; and JANE DOE as Administrator of the Estate of Christopher N. Sides, Deceased, Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD W. STORY, District Judge.

This interpleader action is before the Court on Defendant Casey R. Sides' Motion for Reconsideration of Order Granting Brook Sides' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [42]. After considering the record, the Court enters the following Order.

Background

The pertinent facts in this case are largely undisputed and are set out fully in this Court's Order entered on July 18, 2013 [23]. Unum Life Insurance Company ("Unum") initiated this interpleader action seeking judicial determination of the proper disposition of life insurance proceeds accruing in connection with the death of Christopher Neil Sides ("Chris Sides"). It identified as potential claimants to such sums Brooke Sides, Chris Sides' then-current wife; Casey Sides, as the parent of Chris Sides' minor children Taylor and Collin Sides; and the decedent's estate, represented here by Jane Doe.

The facts underlying the claimants' competing assertions of entitlement to the life insurance proceeds are as follows: Chris Sides purchased a life insurance policy (the "Policy") from United Distributors, Inc., in 1998. He named his then-wife, Casey Sides, as the primary beneficiary. In 2007, Chris Sides and Casey Sides separated and divorced. As part of the divorce Settlement Agreement, Chris Sides agreed to maintain $250, 000 of life insurance naming his minor children as beneficiaries with Casey Sides as trustee.

In 2010, Chris Sides executed a change of beneficiary form and named his then-current wife, Brooke Sides, as the primary beneficiary under the Policy. There were no further changes made to the Policy. Chris Sides died of cardiac arrest in 2012. Since Chris Sides' death, Brooke Sides, Casey Sides, and Michelle Smith, as the Guardian Ad Litem of the minor children, have asserted their entitlement to the life insurance proceeds.

Unum filed this interpleader action on December 20, 2012 as a disinterested stakeholder given the potentially conflicting claims to the benefits under the Policy.[1] Casey Sides answered and cross-claimed against Brooke Sides on January 22, 2013 [5]. Brooke Sides filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim on February 22, 2013 [10], which the Court granted in part and denied in part on July 18, 2013 [23]. On August 28, 2013, Brooke Sides moved for judgment on the pleadings [36], which the Court granted on March 21, 2014 [41].

Now Casey Sides, as guardian and best friend for minors Collin Quin Sides and Taylor Brooke Sides (collectively "Casey Sides"), moves the Court to reconsider its Order Granting Brook Sides' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [41] under Local Rule 7.2(E).

Discussion

I. Motion for Reconsideration Legal Standard

Under the Local Rules of this Court, "[m]otions for reconsideration shall not be filed as a matter of routine practice[, ]" but rather, only when "absolutely necessary." LR 7.2(E), N.D.Ga. Such absolute necessity arises where there is "(1) newly discovered evidence; (2) an intervening development or change in controlling law; or (3) a need to correct a clear error of law or fact." Bryan v. Murphy, 246 F.Supp.2d 1256, 1258-59 (N.D.Ga. 2003). A motion for reconsideration may not be used "to present the court with arguments already heard and dismissed or to repackage familiar arguments to test whether the court will change its mind." Id. at 1259 (quoting Brogdon ex rel. Cline v. Nat'l Healthcare Corp., 103 F.Supp.2d 1322, 1338 (N.D.Ga. 2000)). Nor may it be used "to offer new legal theories or evidence that could have been presented in conjunction with the previously filed motion or response, unless a reason is given for failing to raise the issue at an earlier stage in the litigation." Adler v. Wallace Computer Servs., Inc., 202 F.R.D. 666, 675 (N.D.Ga. 2001). Finally, "[a] motion for reconsideration is not an opportunity for the moving party... to instruct the court on how the court could have done it better' the first time." Pres. Endangered Areas of Cobb's History, Inc. v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 916 F.Supp. 1557, 1560 (N.D.Ga. 1995), aff'd, 87 F.3d 1242 (11th Cir. 1996).

II. Casey Sides' Motion

The Court finds that Casey Sides' arguments directed at the Court's prior Order do not fall within the limited range of objections that appropriately may be raised in a motion for reconsideration and, in any event, lack merit. First, Bryan allows for reconsideration where there is "newly discovered evidence." 246 F.Supp.2d at 1258-59. This basis for reconsideration does not apply here because Casey Sides does not allege that any new evidence has come to light. The second avenue for reconsideration under Bryan also does not apply in this case. Casey Sides has not shown any intervening development or change in controlling law. Instead, she asserts that the Court construed existing Georgia law too narrowly. (Def. Casey Sides' Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Recons. ("Def. Casey Sides' Br."), Dkt. [42-1] at 3.)

Casey Sides primarily relies on the third avenue for reconsideration under Bryan, which provides that reconsideration is necessary where there is "a need to correct a clear error of law or fact." 246 F.Supp.2d at 1259. She claims first that the Court misconstrued Georgia law to find that a divorce decree must specifically identify a particular policy in order for the interest in that policy to be vested. (Def. Casey Sides' Br., Dkt. [42-1] at 3.) Casey Sides next contends that the Court came to factual conclusions not based on evidence in the record. (Id.) She claims that the Court did not construe the facts in her favor, as the Court must construe facts in favor of the non-moving party. At bottom, Casey Sides argues that minor children have a vested interest in any identifiable insurance policy that is subject to a settlement agreement incorporated into a divorce decree, and the Policy is identifiable based on the settlement ...


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