938 F.2d 1245 (11th Cir. 1991), 90-7683, Andrews v. Employees' Retirement Plan of First Alabama Bancshares, Inc.

Docket Nº:90-7683.
Citation:938 F.2d 1245
Party Name:Imelda Russell ANDREWS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT PLAN OF FIRST ALABAMA BANCSHARES, INC., Defendant-Appellant, Nancy S. Beckwith, Defendant.
Case Date:August 14, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1245

938 F.2d 1245 (11th Cir. 1991)

Imelda Russell ANDREWS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT PLAN OF FIRST ALABAMA BANCSHARES,

INC., Defendant-Appellant,

Nancy S. Beckwith, Defendant.

No. 90-7683.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

August 14, 1991

Page 1246

Celia J. Collins, E. Watson Smith, Mobile, Ala., for Employees Retirement Plan.

David A. Bagwell, Mobile, Ala., for Imelda Russell Andrews.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

Before ANDERSON and CLARK, Circuit Judges, and TUTTLE, Senior Circuit Judge.

CLARK, Circuit Judge:

I. FACTS

This appeal is concerned with an action for benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 1001-1461 ("ERISA"). The suit was initiated by Imelda Russell Andrews against Nancy S. Beckwith and the Employees Retirement Plan of First Alabama Bancshares, Inc. ("Plan"). Ms. Andrews sought recovery of ERISA benefits as the widow of Earl P. Andrews who was married to Ms. Beckwith at the time of his retirement, was later divorced from her, and then married Ms. Andrews. The case was submitted to the district court on a stipulation of facts. The district court directed that the spouse's benefits under the Plan be paid to Ms. Andrews, Earl Andrews' wife at the time of his death. Ms. Andrews then moved for attorney's fees, and the district court entered judgment that the Plan pay attorney's fees and costs to Ms. Andrews. The issue of the amount of fees and costs was not adjudicated in the trial court.

Following entry of judgment, Ms. Andrews and Ms. Beckwith entered into a settlement of record pursuant to which Ms.

Page 1247

Beckwith renounced her claim to the pension in return for release from any liability to Ms. Andrews for fees or costs. Ms. Andrews and Ms. Beckwith filed a joint motion pursuant to which Ms. Beckwith was dismissed with prejudice from the lawsuit.

On September 28, 1990 the Plan filed a notice of appeal from "the final judgment and opinion of the Court."

II. DISCUSSION

A. Settlement.

A review of the pleadings in the case reflects that, in response to plaintiff's complaint, the Plan filed its pleading entitled "Response of Employees Retirement Plan of First Alabama Bancshares, Inc. to Plaintiff's Complaint and Counterclaim and Crossclaim in Interpleader." The substance of the Response was that the Plan admitted most of the allegations in the complaint and admitted that it owed the proper beneficiary, to either Ms. Andrews or Ms. Beckwith, the balance of Mr. Andrews' benefits under the Plan. The Plan then alleged: "The Plan claims no interest in the accrued benefit of Earl Andrews in the fund but is a mere stakeholder." The pleading further stated that the Plan had filed a motion to allow it to pay into the registry of the court the monthly benefits due "until such time as...

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