United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff seeks disbursement of certain retirement funds
originally belonging to his brother, a New York decedent,
which the Defendant, a financial services company, deposited
into the Court's Registry after instituting an
interpleader counterclaim. Because of the highly irregular
procedural posture of this case, the Court is reluctant to
take any action to disturb the pre-existing conditions and,
therefore, orders the Clerk to return the funds to the
March 10, 2016, Ralph Nunziata (Plaintiff) filed a complaint
for declaratory judgment in this Court against Janus Funds,
Inc. (Janus, Defendant) and the Thrift Savings Plan, an
agency of the United States. Compl. (ECF No.
The Complaint alleged that Ralph Nunziata, as the executor of
the Estate of Robert Nunziata, is the rightful beneficiary of
retirement accounts managed by Janus originally owned by
Robert Nunziata, who is now deceased. Id. On May 4,
2016, Janus filed an answer and also filed an interpleader
counterclaim, asserting that Robert Nunziata's retirement
file with Janus listed Robert Nunziata's ex-wife, Dolores
Nunziata-Lagamon, as the beneficiary of his retirement
account and expressing concern that it not be subject to
double liability. Def.'s Ans. and Interpleader
Countercl. (ECF No. 4).
August 18, 2016, the Court expressed concern about whether
there was a real case or controversy and suggested that both
potential adverse claimants had to be parties for there to be
a proper interpleader action, so the Court ordered Ralph
Nunziata to implead Dolores Nunziata-Lagamon. Order
(ECF No. 21). On August 30, 2016, the Court further advised,
“Once Ms. Nunziata-Lagamon is impleaded in Mr.
Nunziata's direct action, Janus may wish to close the
circle by interpleading Ms. Nunziata-Lagamon to respond to
the interpleader concern. . . .” Order on Status
Conf. at 3 (ECF No. 24). At the same time, as Janus was
anxious to file the proceeds with the Clerk's Office
while the issue of the rightful beneficiary was being
resolved, the Court granted its motion to deposit the
proceeds with the Clerk's Office. Agreed Order on
Def. Janus Funds, Inc.'s Interpleader Countercl.
(ECF No. 25).
September 16, 2016, Ralph Nunziata filed an amended
complaint, naming Dolores Nunziata-Lagamon as an additional
party. Am. Compl. for Decl. J., an Accounting and
Turnover (ECF No. 29). The Clerk's Office issued a
summons to (ECF No. 56). To cut to the quick, in its
recitation of the facts underlying the pending motions, the
Court has eliminated any further reference to the TSP,
Dolores Ruth O'Dea, formerly known as Dolores
Nunziata-Lagamon, on October 19, 2016. Summons in a Civil
Action (ECF No. 31). On March 28, 2017, the executed
summons was filed. Sheriff's Return (ECF No.
39). Janus never closed the circle by interpleading Ms.
Court issued a scheduling order on March 29, 2017.
Scheduling Order at 1-3 (ECF No. 41). However, Ms.
O'Dea failed to answer the amended complaint, and on
April 26, 2017, the Clerk's Office filed an order to show
cause. Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 42). On May 9,
2017, Attorney Jeffrey White, who had been representing Ralph
Nunziata, moved to withdraw as his attorney and moved to
extend the time within which to respond to the order to show
cause. Mot. to Withdraw as Counsel for the Pl. (ECF
No. 43); Resp. to Order to Show Cause and Req. to Extend
Time to File Responsive Pleading (ECF No. 44). On May
10, 2017, the Court granted the motion to extend time and the
motion to withdraw as counsel, giving Ralph Nunziata
twenty-one days to find new counsel. Order (ECF No.
45); Order (ECF No. 47). On May 31, 2017, Attorney
Jeffrey Bennett entered his appearance on behalf of Ralph
Nunziata. Notice of Appearance (ECF No. 50).
16, 2017, Attorney Bennett for Ralph Nunziata and Attorney
John Giffune for Janus filed a Stipulation of Dismissal,
dismissing the action. Stip. of Dismissal (ECF No.
54). On the same day, Attorney Bennett filed a voluntary
dismissal as to Dolores Ruth O'Dea. Notice of
Voluntary Dismissal (ECF No. 55).
10, 2017, the Court expressed dissatisfaction with the state
of the docket as a result of the dismissals, because
“[t]he case is . . . over from the Court's
perspective, except that the Clerk's Office continues to
hold monies in anticipation of a legally-sufficient direction
from the parties as to what to do with the proceeds.”
Status Order at 3-4 (ECF No. 57). The Court
instructed the parties to file documents under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 67, Local Rule 67(d), and 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2041-42 to enable the Court to release the
funds. Id. at 4.
31, 2017, Mr. Nunziata entered a pro se appearance.
Notice of Pro Se Appearance (ECF No. 62). On August
2, 2017, Attorney Bennett moved to withdraw as Mr.
Nunziata's attorney in light of the pro se appearance.
Mot. to Withdraw as Counsel for the Pl. (ECF No.
64). The Court granted the motion to withdraw on August 3,
2017. Order (ECF No. 65).
August 7, 2017, the Court received a letter from the Public
Administrator of Queens County, New York claiming that it was
the true administrator of the Estate of Robert Nunziata.
Letter (ECF No. 66). The Public Administrator
provided exhibits showing that the Surrogate's Court of
Queens County, New York had revoked Ralph Nunziata's
letters of Administration on August 17, 2015 and appointed
the Public Administrator as executor of the Estate.
Id. Attachs. 2-3.
August 17, 2017, Ralph Nunziata filed a motion to withdraw
the funds. Mot. for Withdrawl [sic] of C.R.I.S.
Funds (ECF No. 69) (Pl.'s Mot.). On
September 1, 2017, the Public Administrator filed a response,
Affirmation in Opp'n to Mot. for Withdrawal of
C.R.I.S. Funds (ECF No. 71) (Public Administrator
Opp'n), and Janus filed a response on September 7,
2017. Resp. to Mot. for Withdrawl of C.R.I.S. Funds
(ECF No. 72) (Def.'s Opp'n). On September 15
and 19, 2017, Mr. Nunziata filed replies. Obj. to the
Office of Public Administration's for Queens County
Affirmation in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for the
Withdrawl [sic] of C.R.I.S. Funds (ECF No. 74)
(Pl.'s Public Administrator Reply);
Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s Obj. to Pl.'s Mot. for
Disbursement of Interpleader Funds (ECF No. 75)
(Pl.'s Janus Reply).
on August 22, 2017, Janus filed its motion to direct
disbursement of the funds. Mot. Regarding Disbursement of
Interpleader Funds (ECF. No. 70) (Def.'s
Mot.). On September 13, 2017, Mr. Nunziata filed a
response to Janus's motion. Pl.'s Obj. to
Def.'s Mot. for Disbursement of Interpleader Funds
(ECF No. 73) (Pl.'s Opp'n). Janus did not
reply to Mr. Nunziata's response and the Public
Administrator did not respond to either Janus' motion or
Mr. Nunziata's response.