State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, No. 88-4865

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GARZA, WILLIAMS and DAVIS; DAVIS
Citation896 F.2d 116
PartiesSTATE FARM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. Diane D. GUTTERMAN, et al., Defendants-Appellees, v. Regan Daughtry GUTTERMAN and John S. Gutterman, III, Infants, Defendants-Appellants, and H.J. Davidson, Jr., Co-Guardian Ad Litem of the Minor Children, Etc., Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 88-4865
Decision Date12 March 1990

Page 116

896 F.2d 116
15 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1479
STATE FARM LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
Diane D. GUTTERMAN, et al., Defendants-Appellees,
v.
Regan Daughtry GUTTERMAN and John S. Gutterman, III,
Infants, Defendants-Appellants,
and
H.J. Davidson, Jr., Co-Guardian Ad Litem of the Minor
Children, Etc., Appellant.
No. 88-4865.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
March 12, 1990.

H.J. Davidson, Jr., Columbus, Miss., Co-Guardian Ad Litem for infants.

Henry D.H. Olinde, Jr., Timothy F. Burr, New Orleans, La., for Regan Daughtry Gutterman & John S. Gutterman, III.

Jacob C. Pongetti, Columbus, Miss., Trustee.

Page 117

James A. Walters, Charles D. Easley, Walters & Easley, Columbus, Miss., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Before GARZA, WILLIAMS and DAVIS, Circuit Judges.

DAVIS, Circuit Judge:

In this dispute over the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the appellant, a co-guardian ad litem for two minor children (the co-guardian), complains of the district court's order terminating his appointment and dismissing the claims of the minors he represents. We affirm.

I.

In May of 1987, plaintiff, State Farm Life Insurance Company (State Farm) instituted an interpleader action seeking a judicial determination of the party entitled to the proceeds of a life insurance policy insuring the life of the deceased, Dr. John S. Gutterman, II. State Farm named as defendants Diane Gutterman, Dr. Gutterman's surviving widow; Jacob C. Pongetti, Trustee-in-Bankruptcy for the Estate of Dr. Gutterman and Diane Gutterman (the trustee); Ruth Segars, the mother of Diane Gutterman; Joel Daughtry, the father of Diane Gutterman; the Estate of Dr. Gutterman of which Diane Gutterman qualified as administrator; and Regan Daughtry Gutterman and John S. Gutterman, III, the minor children of Dr. Gutterman and Diane Gutterman. The court appointed a guardian ad litem for the children. The court later appointed a co-guardian ad litem (the appellant in this appeal).

A brief recitation of the background facts is necessary to understand the dispute that arose over the policy proceeds. In February of 1984, Dr. Gutterman applied for a $700,000 life insurance policy with State Farm. The policy named him as the insured and designated his wife Diane Gutterman as the primary beneficiary and owner of the policy. Ruth Segars was the successor beneficiary and Joel Daughtry was the final beneficiary.

In December 1985, Dr. Gutterman submitted a "Change of Beneficiary Form" to State Farm. The form named Dr. Gutterman as the insured and "Regan Gutterman--age 2--daughter" and "John S. Gutterman, III--age 1--son" as the primary beneficiaries. Diane Gutterman was the successor beneficiary. 1

In September 1986, Dr. Gutterman and Diane Gutterman filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

In January 1987, while in the bedroom of his home, Dr. Gutterman suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Although the death was initially considered a suicide, the co-guardian alleges that the injury was not self-inflicted and that Diane Gutterman caused her husband's death. Law enforcement officials investigated the death, but no criminal charges have been filed.

On March 13, 1987, the trustee served notice on State Farm that the proceeds of the policy were the property of Diane Gutterman's bankruptcy estate and should be tendered to the trustee. On March 23, 1987, Diane Gutterman made a claim for the proceeds of the life insurance policy.

After interpleading the above-named parties, State Farm filed a motion for summary judgment seeking permission to withdraw from the interpleader action on grounds that it had paid its policy limit in the court's registry and had no further liability or interest in the litigation. The court granted State Farm's motion and dismissed it from the suit.

Diane Gutterman then filed a motion for summary judgment to obtain the insurance proceeds. The court granted the motion and ordered the proceeds paid to Diane's bankruptcy trustee. The court terminated the guardianship and dismissed the claims of the minor children.

The co-guardian filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that Diane Gutterman

Page 118

would not be entitled to the proceeds if she caused the death of Dr. Gutterman. The court held that, even if Diane Gutterman were disqualified as a beneficiary, the minor children were not entitled to the proceeds. That ruling is the subject of this appeal.

II.

The co-guardian contends that disputed issues of material fact are presented with regard to whether Diane Gutterman killed her husband and, therefore, summary judgment was improper. Appellant argues that if the factfinder ultimately finds that Diane murdered her husband, Dr. Gutterman's children are entitled to...

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438 practice notes
  • Williams v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., No. Civ. A. H–13–2510.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 22, 2015
    ...the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment....’ " State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990), quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Nor is the......
  • Lottinger v. Shell Oil Co., No. CIV. A. H-99-2103.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • May 16, 2001
    ...19 F.3d 1527, 1533 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 871, 115 S.Ct. 195, 130 L.Ed.2d 127 (1994)); State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505). Summary judgment is mandated if the nonmovant fails to make a sho......
  • In re Enron Cor. Sec., Dervivative & "Erisa" Lit., No. MDL-1446.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • November 30, 2006
    ...parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment ....'" State Farm, Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990), quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Nor is the `m......
  • La. Crawfish Producers Ass'n W. v. Mallard Basin, Inc., NO. 6:10-cv-1085 (lead)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • January 9, 2019
    ...the nonmovant must submit "significant probative evidence" in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anders......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
420 cases
  • Williams v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., No. Civ. A. H–13–2510.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 22, 2015
    ...the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment....’ " State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990), quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Nor is the ‘mere sci......
  • Lottinger v. Shell Oil Co., No. CIV. A. H-99-2103.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • May 16, 2001
    ...19 F.3d 1527, 1533 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 871, 115 S.Ct. 195, 130 L.Ed.2d 127 (1994)); State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505). Summary judgment is mandated if the nonmovant fails to make a sho......
  • In re Enron Cor. Sec., Dervivative & "Erisa" Lit., No. MDL-1446.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • November 30, 2006
    ...the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment ....'" State Farm, Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir.1990), quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Nor is the `mere sc......
  • La. Crawfish Producers Ass'n W. v. Mallard Basin, Inc., NO. 6:10-cv-1085 (lead)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • January 9, 2019
    ...Instead, the nonmovant must submit "significant probative evidence" in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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