United States District Court, D. Nevada
September 16, 2014
NAPLES POLARIS, LLC, Plaintiff,
VAL PETERSON et al., Defendants.
ROBERT C. JONES, District Judge.
This Rule 22 interpleader action arises out of confusion concerning the proper claimant to $300, 000 held by Plaintiff. On September 8, 2008, the bankruptcy court of this District approved a settlement agreement ("SA") in Case No. 07-bk-51126. ( See Compl. ¶ 10, Sept. 17, 2013; Order 5:10-11, Sept. 8, 2008, ECF No. 1, at 8; SA, Aug. 27, 2008, ECF No. 1, at 23). The SA provided in relevant part that the trustee was to assign certain of the debtor's civil claims (the "Assigned Claims") to Plaintiff in the present action, Naples Polaris, LLC ("Naples"), and that Naples could pursue those claims at its discretion so long as certain other parties were appraised of the litigation and any settlement offers. ( See SA 12-13). Naples contemporaneously granted an entity identified in the relevant section of the SA only as "Western" a contingent security interest in the first $300, 000 of any amount recovered under the Assigned Claims after allowance for fees and costs related to their prosecution. ( See id. 14). Naples recovered approximately $2.5 million on the Assigned Claims in state court, and upon the Nevada Supreme Court's affirmation and remittitur the state district court released to Naples the supersedeas bonds Defendants had posted. ( See Compl. ¶¶ 15-16). Naples is now in possession of $300, 000 to which "Western" is entitled. ( Id. ¶ 14). However, Naples is uncertain to whom it should distribute the funds because of, inter alia, confusion over corporate names and corporate status. ( See id. ¶¶ 17-28).
Naples therefore filed the present Rule 22 interpleader action in this Court, naming four Defendants-in-Interpleader: (1) Val Peterson; (2) Eugene Cleveland Canepa; (3) Western Properties of Nevada, LLC; and (4) the United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"). The first page of the SA indicates that "Western" refers to "Western Properties, LLC, " and the SA appears to use the abbreviation "Western" thereafter. Naples notes that only Western Properties of Nevada, LLC made an appearance in the bankruptcy case, however, and the SA is signed on behalf of "Western Properties of Nevada." Canepa is the principal of Western Properties of Nevada, LLC, and he filed proofs of claim in the name "Western Properties, LLC." The Secretary of State's website indicates that there are business entities named "Western Properties LLC, " "Western Properties, LLC, " and "Western Properties of Nevada, LLC." The first entity has been dissolved but previously had a single manager, The Revocable Trust of Michelle M. Mayne. The second entity is active, with managers Brian and Sandra Kazarian. The third entity is revoked, with previous managers Canepa and Peterson. It appears that the third entity is the one involved in the bankruptcy proceedings and the SA based upon Canepa's and Peterson's separate mention in the SA and lack of any reference to the members of the other closely named entities. The reference to "Western Properties, LLC" in the SA was likely an unfortunate, though minor, error that has resulted in confusion only because of the generic name of the entity. However, Western Properties of Nevada, LLC's revoked status still makes it unclear to Naples to whom the proceeds should be distributed. ( See id. ¶ 29). Finally, Naples notes that it is aware of a federal tax lien against Canepa, so it has named the IRS as a Defendant-in-Interpleader, as well. ( See id. ¶ 28).
The Court has disbursed a small portion of the res, but most of it remains in the custody of the Court. Canepa has asked the Court to grant him summary judgment to the effect that under Nevada law, as between Canepa and Peterson, Canepa has the right to 95.83% of the proceeds to which Western would be entitled if not defunct, and that Peterson is entitled to 4.166% of those proceeds. He does not ask the Court to adjudicate the res as against the remaining claim of the IRS or to disburse any funds at this time. Intervenors Denise Renteria, Oscar Renteria, and the Renteria Family Trust have joined the motion. Peterson has not timely responded.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 54) is GRANTED. As between the successor in interest to Western Properties of Nevada, LLC, Eugene Cleveland Canepa holds a 95.83 % interest, and Val Peterson holds a 4.166% interest.
IT IS SO ORDERED.