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Lucas-MacGibbon v. USAA Life Insurance Co., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 12, 2018

RICHARD LUCAS-MacGIBBON, individually; ESTATE OF MARIE CAROL LUCAS-MacGIBBON, Plaintiffs,
v.
USAA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign company of unknown type; DOES 1-10, individually, Defendants.

          ORDER (ECF NO. 21)

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         This dispute involves a payout of benefits under two life insurance policies (“Policies”) issued to Marie Carol Lucas-MacGibbon (“Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon”) (ECF Nos. 21-5, 21-6) who passed away on June 18, 2013 (ECF No. 1 at 11). Before the Court is Defendant USAA Life Insurance Company's (“USAA Life”) motion for summary judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff Richard Lucas-MacGibbon (“Mr. Lucas-MacGibbon”) filed a response (ECF No. 22)[1] and USAA Life replied (ECF No. 23).

         For the following reasons, the Motion (ECF No. 21) is granted.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         At the time Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon obtained the Policies from USAA Life, she listed Mr. Lucas-MacGibbon and her biological son, Daxim-Rey Lucas-Banagudos (“Mr. Lucas-Banagudos”), as the beneficiaries. (ECF No. 21-5 at 21; ECF No. 21-6 at 17.) At all relevant times, Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon was listed as the primary insured, owner, and “payor” under the Policies. (ECF Nos. 21-7, 21-8; ECF No. 22-11 at 4.)

         In 2006, Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon changed the designated beneficiaries under the Policies, making Mr. Lucas-Banagudos the sole 100% beneficiary. (ECF No. 21-7 at 2.) Mr. Lucas-Banagudos thereafter remained the sole beneficiary through Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon's death. USAA Life issued payment under the Policies to Mr. Lucas-Banagudos in April 2014. (ECF No. 21-13 at 4.) The value of the Policies at the time of Mrs. Lucas-MacGibbon's death totaled $600, 000 ($300, 000 each). (ECF No. at 11; ECF Nos. 21-5, 21-6.)

         Mr. Lucas-MacGibbon initiated this action in April 2017 challenging USAA Life's issuance of the benefits to Mr. Lucas-Banagudos-his step-son. (ECF No. 1 at 10.) He advances four claims for relief-breach of contract, bad faith, breach of fiduciary duty, and declaratory relief. (ECF No. 1 at 12-14.) USAA Life asserts that Mr. Lucas-MacGibbon's claims are time-barred under the doctrine of laches, or in the alternative fail for material misrepresentation, and additionally alleges various affirmative defenses. (ECF No. 5 at 7-9; ECF Nos. 21, 21-1.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court.” Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). An issue is “genuine” if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact-finder could find for the nonmoving party and a dispute is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Where reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, however, summary judgment is not appropriate. See Id. at 250-51. “The amount of evidence necessary to raise a genuine issue of material fact is enough ‘to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.'” Aydin Corp. v. Loral Corp., 718 F.2d 897, 902 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). In evaluating a summary judgment motion, a court views all facts and draws all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fishbach & Moore, Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact. Zoslaw v. MCA Distrib. Corp., 693 F.2d 870, 883 (9th Cir. 1982). Once the moving party satisfies Rule 56's requirements, the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion to “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The nonmoving party “may not rely on denials in the pleadings but must produce specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the dispute exists, ” Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991), and “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Orr v. Bank of Am., NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 783 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court agrees with USAA Life's argument that Mr. Lucas-MacGibbon's claims are barred by laches (ECF Nos. 21, 21-1), and declines to address its alternative argument.[2]

         “Laches is an equitable defense.” Danjaq LLC v. Sony Corp., 263 F.3d 942, 950 (9th Cir. 2001). It bars a plaintiff who, “with full knowledge of the facts, acquiesces in a transaction and sleeps upon his rights.” Id. at 950-51 (quotations and citations omitted). A defendant is entitled to relief under the doctrine where the defendant proves “both an unreasonable delay by the plaintiff and prejudice to itself.” Co ...


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