United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
February 6, 2018, Plaintiff United of Omaha Life Insurance
Company ("United") brought this interpleader action
related to an accidental death insurance policy covering the
life of Lewis E. Seay, Jr. in the amount of $200, 000.
Defendant Jonathan Seay, Lewis Seay's brother, is the
beneficiary of the Policy.
1, 2016, Lewis Seay was murdered. Because there was some
suspicion of Jonathan Seay in the death of his brother,
United did not immediately pay the death benefits. Rather,
United eventually paid the $200, 000 policy benefit into the
registry of this Court on March 12, 2018. Because they are
heirs at law, United named Jonathan Seay and his other
siblings (David A. Seay, Sarah Lou White, and Jael M. Connor)
as defendants in the case.
David A. Seay, Sarah Lou White, and Jael M. Connor were
served with process but have failed to appear, plead or
otherwise defendant the action. Defendant Jonathan Seay
answered the interpleader complaint on March 15, 2018, and
has fully litigated the case.
February 21, 2019, upon joint motion from United and
Defendant Jonathan Seay, the Court ordered that United pay
into the Registry of the Court the sum of $19, 254.79,
representing interest under the policy. (Doc. No. 35, at 1.)
The Court also discharged United from any further liability
under or related to the accidental death policy and the death
benefits thereunder. (Id. at 2.) United was
dismissed from the action, and Jonathan Seay's
counterclaims against United were dismissed with prejudice.
(Id. at 3.)
March 15, 2019, the Clerk of Court entered default against
David A. Seay, Sarah Lou White, and Jael M. Connor. On March
21, 2019, Defendant Jonathan Seay filed the instant motion
for default judgment, seeking the money on deposit in the
registry of the Court.
default does not in itself warrant the court in entering a
default judgment. There must be a sufficient basis in the
pleadings for a judgment entered .... The defendant is not
held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit
conclusions of law." Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v.
Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
1975). A defendant, by his default, is only deemed to have
admitted the "plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations
of fact." Id. "[T]hree distinct matters
[are] essential in considering any default judgment: (1)
jurisdiction; (2) liability; and (3) damages." Pitts
ex rel. Pitts v. Senecar Sports, Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d
1353, 1356 (S.D. Ga. 2004).
parties in this case are diverse: United is a Nebraska
corporation with its principal place of business in Nebraska.
(Compl., Doc. No. 1, 5 1.) Defendants are all citizens of
Georgia. (Id. SISI 2, 4-6.) The amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. The Court therefore has subject
matter jurisdiction over this case. Moreover, his Court has
personal jurisdiction over Defendant Jonathan Seay because he
resides in the State of Georgia.
disinterested stakeholder, United paid $200, 000 into the
Registry of the Court because of the death of Lewis E. Seay,
Jr. It is undisputed that Jonathan Seay is the sole
beneficiary of the accidental death insurance policy. (Compl.
1 10.) It is also undisputed that Jonathan Seay
filed a timely request for payment under the policy.
(Id. SI 14.) There is no evidence that any other
person has made a claim to the benefits under the policy or
to the money in the Registry of the Court. The other named
defendants have not appeared to dispute Jonathan Seay's
right to the policy benefits. Therefore, Defendant Jonathan
Seay has established that he is entitled to the policy
evidentiary hearing on damages is required where all
essential evidence is already of record. S.E.C. v.
Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1232 n.13 (11th Cir.
2005). Here, United's interpleader claim against
Defendants was for a sum certain, i.e., the policy benefits
and interest thereon. Accordingly, default judgment in this
amount is proper.
the foregoing, Defendant's motion for default judgment
(doc. no. 39) is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court
is directed to ENTER JUDGMENT in favor of
Defendant Jonathan Seay in the amount of $219, 254.79.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk
disburse to Jonathan Seay the amount of $219, 254.79 plus any