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Hancock v. Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 2, 2017

DEBORAH R. HANCOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONWIDE LIFE AND ANNUITY INSURANCE COMPANY and RENEE SNELLENBURG, Defendant.

          NELSON MULLINS RILEY & SCARBOROUGH LLP Leslie Lane Mize N.C. State Bar No. 32790 Counsel for Defendant Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company

          HARRIS, SARRATT & HODGES, LLP H. Clay Hodges, NCSB # 29270 Counsel for Plaintiff Deborah R. Hancock

          CONSENT ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          Hon. Louise W. Flanagan United States District Judge

         BEFORE THE COURT is the Joint Motion of Plaintiff Deborah R. Hancock (“Plaintiff”) and Defendant and Cross-claimant Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company (“Nationwide”) for entry of default judgment against Defendant Renee Snellenburg and for distribution of the proceeds at issue in this action.

         THE RECORD REFLECTS the following facts pertinent to the Order requested by Plaintiff and Nationwide:

         1. On or about November 11, 2015, Charles G. Gilbert (“Annuitant”) completed the Application for an Individual Single Purchase Payment Deferred Fixed Indexed Annuity in the amount of $125, 000.00. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 32.)

         2. The primary beneficiary listed on the Application was Deborah R. Hancock, the Annuitant's sister, with 100% allocation. No contingent beneficiary was listed on the Application. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 33.)

         3. In response to the application, Nationwide issued on December 21, 2015, a Fixed Index Annuity contract to the Annuitant in the amount of $125, 000.00 and assigned Contract No. xxxxx7073 (“the Contract”). (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 34.)

         4. The Annuitant died on July 2, 2016. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 35.)

         5. Nationwide received correspondence dated July 22, 2016, from an attorney for Defendant Snellenburg, the Annuitant's daughter, alleging that she believes that the Plaintiff purposefully re-established contact with the Annuitant after years of estrangement and, in a manner secretive to Defendant Snellenburg, regained the Annuitant's trust and confidence. The letter states that Defendant Snellenburg and her attorney believe that the Plaintiff used that position to persuade the Annuitant to engage in several financial transactions, including changing his beneficiary designations. The letter states that Defendant Snellenburg intends to pursue a lawsuit against the Plaintiff and demands that Nationwide not disburse the funds to the Plaintiff pending resolution of the alleged dispute. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 36.)

         6. By letter dated July 27, 2016, Nationwide wrote to the attorney for Defendant Snellenburg. The letter states that Nationwide acknowledges receipt of the July 22, 2016 correspondence and will not release the funds due under the Contract until it received either a contractual binding agreement or a court order instructing Nationwide to whom it should pay the proceeds due under the Contract. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 37.)

         7. By letter dated July 27, 2016, Nationwide wrote to the Plaintiff. The letter states that Nationwide received notice of an adverse claim and will not release the funds due under the Contract until it received either a contractual binding agreement or a court order instructing Nationwide to whom it should pay the proceeds due under the Contract. (Dkt No. 20 ¶ 38.)

         8. Because of these actions by Defendant Snellenburg and Nationwide, Plaintiff filed the Summons and Verified Complaint on September 23, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.) In the Verified Complaint, among other things, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that she is the rightful beneficiary entitled to the proceeds of an Annuity issued by Nationwide. (Id.)

         9. Plaintiff served Defendant Snellenburg with a copy of the Summons and Verified Complaint on October 4, 2016, which Defendant Snellenburg received on that date. (Dkt. No. 18.) On October 27, 2016, more than twenty-one days after Plaintiff served Defendant Snellenburg, Plaintiff moved for an entry of default as to Defendant ...


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