United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Community State Bank's Motion for
Discharge and for Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs.
(ECF No. 36). Separate Defendant J. Schuyler Marvin filed a
response. (ECF No. 38). Intervenor Gary Wilson also filed a
response. (ECF No. 44). Plaintiff has filed a reply. (ECF No.
39). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.
is a state-chartered banking corporation located in Bradley,
Arkansas. On March 16, 2018, Separate Defendant Maxine Wilson
opened a checking account with Plaintiff by depositing five
cashier's checks totaling $255, 209.47 (the
“Fund”). The checks were payable to Jennifer
Harting Wilson and were indorsed by Separate Defendant Wilson
in her capacity as power of attorney for Jennifer Wilson.
After the opening of the checking account, Plaintiff became
aware that Jennifer Wilson had died. On or about April 27, 2018,
the 26th Judicial District Court of Louisiana served
Plaintiff with a warrant for seizure for forfeiture of the
Fund (the “Louisiana warrant”) pursuant to
Louisiana Revised Statutes 15:1356, which, in relevant part,
provides for civil forfeiture and disposition of money used
in or obtained from conduct in violation of Louisiana's
Racketeering Act. The Louisiana warrant ordered Plaintiff to
relinquish the Fund in the form of a cashier's check to
the 26th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Bossier
Parish, Louisiana, to be preserved and safeguarded by
Separate Defendant J. Schuyler Marvin until further order of
the Louisiana state court. At an unspecified time, Plaintiff
also became aware of the opening of Jennifer Wilson's
9, 2018, Plaintiff Community State Bank commenced this
interpleader action to resolve competing claims to the Fund.
Plaintiff indicates that the following individuals have
asserted competing claims to all or part of the Fund:
Separate Defendant Marvin, the district attorney in Bossier
Parish, Louisiana; Separate Defendant Carrie W. Winford, the
administratrix of Jennifer Wilson's estate; and
Intervenor Gary Wilson, Jennifer Wilson's
August 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motion, asking
the Court to allow it to deposit the Fund with the Clerk of
Court and, accordingly, order that Plaintiff be dismissed and
discharged from this lawsuit. Plaintiff also asks the Court
to exercise its discretion to award it attorney's fees
and costs incurred in bringing this action, to be recovered
from the Fund. Separate Defendant Marvin opposes the motion,
arguing, inter alia, that the Court should deny the
instant motion and decline to exercise jurisdiction over this
case pursuant to the Colorado River abstention
doctrine. Intervenor appears to support the instant motion,
arguing that the Court has jurisdiction over this case and
that abstention is not appropriate under any abstention
is a procedural device that allows a party holding money or
property, concededly belonging to another, to join in a
single suit two or more parties asserting mutually exclusive
claims to the fund. A party may bring a claim under statutory
interpleader, governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1335, as Plaintiff
did here, or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22. “The
purpose of an interpleader action is to shield a
disinterested stakeholder from the costs of having to defend
against multiple suits, and from the risk of multiple
liability or inconsistent obligations where several claimants
assert rights to a single stake.” Stonebridge Life
Ins. Co. v. Litherland, No. 4:10-cv-1231 (CEJ), 2011 WL
743753, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 23, 2011) (citing S & W
Foreclosure Corp. v. Okenfuss, No. 4:09-cv-353, 2010 WL
106675, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 6, 2010)).
actions generally unfold in a two-stage process. In a
statutory interpleader case, like this one, the Court first
determines whether the requirements of the interpleader
statute have been met and whether the stakeholder may be
relieved from liability. Viking Ins. Co. of Wis. v.
Kemp, No. 3:12-cv-0216-KGB, 2013 WL 6780571, at *3 (E.D.
Ark. Dec. 19, 2013). If the Court answers those questions
affirmatively, it then proceeds to the second stage, where it
adjudicates the adverse claims to the interpleaded fund.
presently asks the Court to determine that it is a
disinterested stakeholder. Plaintiff then asks the Court to
allow it to deposit the Fund into the registry of the Court
and, afterwards, to be dismissed from this action.
Accordingly, the Court must now determine whether Plaintiff
has satisfied all requirements for statutory
interpleader. If the Court finds that Plaintiff has, the
Court will then determine whether Plaintiff is a
disinterested stakeholder and, thus, whether the instant
motion should be granted.
is no set procedure for conducting the first stage of
interpleader.” Mary Kay Kane, 7 Fed. Prac. & Proc.
Civ. § 1714 (3d ed. 2018). Courts typically
“determine whether the prerequisites to . . .
statutory interpleader have been met by examining such things
as the citizenship of the litigants, the merits of the
asserted threat of multiple vexation, and, if interpleader is
sought under the statute, the sufficiency of the
stakeholder's deposit or bond.” Prudential Ins.
Co. of Am. v. Herzog, No. 4:16-cv-01306 (CEJ), 2017 WL
1477142, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 25, 2017) (quoting
Vanderlinden v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 137 F.Supp.2d
1160, 1164 (D. Neb. 2001)). “If these requirements are
met, the court may dismiss [a] disinterested stakeholder from
the interpleader action, leaving the claimants to prosecute
their conflicting claims.” Id. Notably, the
merits of the claims do not foreclose interpleader relief.
See Hunter v. Fed. Life Ins. Co., 111 F.2d 551, 556
(8th Cir. 1940).
Defendant Marvin argues that the 26th Judicial District Court
of Louisiana established in rem jurisdiction over
the Fund when it issued the Louisiana warrant to Plaintiff.
Separate Defendant Marvin argues that, pursuant to the
Louisiana warrant, he will safeguard and preserve the Fund
“until a [Louisiana] court can determine the validity
of competing claims.”(ECF No. 14, p. 5). He argues
further that the Court should not exercise concurrent
jurisdiction over this case by proceeding forward, thereby
subjecting Plaintiff to two conflicting court orders, and
should instead dismiss this case so that the Louisiana state
court may enforce the Louisiana warrant and determine the
proper distribution of the Fund in accordance with
Louisiana's applicable civil forfeiture statute.
argues in response that the Louisiana state court did not
obtain personal jurisdiction over it or the Fund by serving a
civil forfeiture warrant on an Arkansas bank with no ties to
Louisiana, attempting to seize property located solely in
Arkansas. Thus, Plaintiff argues that the Louisiana warrant
does not constitute a lawful court order binding Plaintiff
and that, at most, it creates a claim for the Fund that
should be adjudicated in this interpleader case along with
the other competing claims to the Fund. Intervenor similarly
contends that the Court has jurisdiction over the parties and
Fund in this case and that the Louisiana state court does
clear to the Court that Separate Defendant Marvin wants the
Court to dismiss this case pursuant to the Colorado
River abstention doctrine. Separate Defendant Marvin has
raised this request in numerous filings, including in a
filing that is styled as an answer (ECF No. 9); in an
identical answer filed a few weeks later (ECF No. 13); in an
amended answer (ECF No. 14); in an answer to Intervenor's
complaint in intervention (ECF No. 35); and in his response
to the instant motion. (ECF No. 38). However, none of these
filings properly place the issue of concurrent jurisdiction
or abstention before the Court in a way that allows the Court
Local Rules of the United States District Courts for the
Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas express that a
pretrial motion to dismiss will not be taken up and
considered by the Court unless it is set forth in a separate
pleading that is accompanied by a separate brief.
See Local Rule 7.2(e). As discussed above, Separate
Defendant Marvin has repeatedly asked the Court to dismiss
this case. However, none of his filings comply with Local
Rule 7.2(e)'s requirement that a motion to dismiss be set
out in a separate motion accompanied by a supporting brief.
Moreover, the Court cannot consider Separate Defendant
Marvin's request for ...