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Ohio National Life Assurance Corp. v. Chaknis

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

March 21, 2018

OHIO NATIONAL LIFE ASSURANCE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
MANUEL JOHN CHAKNIS, JOHN MANUEL CHAKNIS, ANTHONY ANDREW CHAKNIS, E.M.C., a minor, and M.C.C., a minor, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DLTFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Ohio National Life Assurance Corporation's (“Ohio Life”) Motion for Interpleader Deposit [7] and John Manuel Chaknis and Anthony Andrew Chaknis's (“Movants”) Motion for Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Minor Defendants [15]. No party filed an opposition to either pending motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 6, 2017, Ohio Life filed its Complaint in Interpleader to determine the proper ownership, distribution of, and Interpleader-Defendants' entitlement to, the death benefit of a life insurance policy insured against the life of Caren Cocks Chaknis (“Insured”) who died on August 28, 2017. [1]. The total benefit at stake is in the amount of $1, 500, 000.00 plus applicable interest. Ohio Life asserts that it is a disinterested stakeholder, it is uncertain as to the proper recipient of the benefits, it may be exposed to double or multiple liability unless this Court resolves all actual and potential conflicting claims to the death benefits. ([7] ¶ 3). Ohio Life moves to deposit the death benefit funds into the registry of this Court. ([7] ¶ 4).

         The competing claims for the death benefit place the Insured's ex-husband, Manuel John Chaknis, against the Insured's children, John Manuel Chaknis, Anthony Andrew Chaknis, E.M.C. (a minor), and M.C.C. (a minor).[1] For the insurance policy at issue, the Insured designated her children, and the children of Manuel John Chaknis, as the sole beneficiaries of the policy. Manuel John Chaknis contends that he has an equitable interest superior to his children's claim as designated beneficiaries under the subject policy. Mr. Chaknis' claim is predicated upon language contained in a divorce agreement between him and the Insured.

         Movants state that the two minor interpleader defendants are in need of representation to pursue their legal claims. They request that the Court appoint Heather K. Karrh, Esq., as guardian ad litem pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(c).[2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Deposit of Funds

         With respect to Ohio Life's request to deposit funds in the Court registry, Fed.R.Civ.P. 67 states that “[i]f any part of the relief sought is a money judgment or the disposition of a sum of money or some other deliverable thing, a party-on notice to every other party and by leave of court-may deposit with the court all or part of the money or thing, whether or not that party claims any of it.” No party opposes Ohio Life's motion and the Court finds good cause to grant the motion.

         B. Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem

         “[T]he appointment of a guardian ad litem is a procedural question controlled by Rule 17(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Genworth Life Ins. Co. v. Sehorne, No. 8:07CV2308T30EAJ, 2008 WL 912438, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 1, 2008), citing Burke v. Smith, 252 F.3d 1260, 1264 (11th Cir. 2001). In pertinent part, Rule 17 provides:

[a] minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem-or issue another appropriate order-to protect a minor or incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(c)(2). “Where it is evident that a conflict of interest exists between a parent and a minor, the court has a duty to determine whether a guardian ad litem is needed.” Genworth Life Ins., 2008 WL 912438, at *4, citing Burke, 252 F.3d at 1264.

         Appointment of a guardian ad litem for the minor children, E.M.C. and M.C.C. is appropriate in this case. A conflict between the interests of Manuel John Chaknis and the interests of his minor ...


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