Source: Montana Law Week
INTERPLEADER: Investment entity granted interpleader in Tribal Court dispute over funds in account, awarded fees & costs… Best.
Edward D. Jones seeks an interpleader to join Lisa Copiskey and Dennis Bohnert because they have claims against each other which may expose Jones to double or multiple liability based on their competing claims for funds in a Jones account. Jones asserts the following, which neither Defendant disputes: Blackfeet Tribal Court issued an order prohibiting Jones from using, reducing, diminishing, transferring, disposing of, and/or in any respect dissipating any funds in Bohnert’s Jones account. Bohnert and Copiskey have appealed several Tribal Court orders relating to distribution of the funds and have disputed its jurisdiction at various times. In light of her appeals, Copiskey has asked Jones not to distribute funds to Bohnert until the appeals are resolved and all underlying claims are heard by Tribal Court. Bohnert has disputed Tribal Court jurisdiction, alleged procedural errors, and disputed Copiskey’s right to execute against the funds.
In Bohnert’s argument to this Court, most of which is inconsistent and difficult to follow logically, he seems to want to have his cake and eat it too: to require Jones to follow Tribal Court orders which favor him, but not follow Tribal Court orders which favor Copiskey. This is patently absurd and points up the problem Jones seeks to solve with this interpleader. None of Bohnert’s arguments, even were they logical, go to the questions this Court must answer. His counterclaim flies in the face of the policy reasons for Rule 22 and is unsupported by the law. There are no legal claims — nor do there appear to be any specific allegations — in support of his counterclaim. Bringing a valid interpleader shields a plaintiff from liability for counterclaims where they are based on a plaintiff bringing an interpleader rather than having to choose between competing claimants. Comyne (ED Wis. 2002).
The Court may in its discretion award attorney fees & costs in bringing the interpleader against the stake. Soha (Mont. 1981). Jones appears to be a disinterested stakeholder, which the parties concede. It is entitled to an award of fees & costs from the stake.
Jones and the parties agree that it has in its possession or control money which is the subject of litigation, held in trust for Bohnert. §25-8-101. The funds in the Bohnert account are ordered to be deposited with the Court. Jones is dismissed with prejudice following payment of the funds into the Court’s registry and determination of fees & costs following a hearing.
Bohnert and Copiskey are ordered to interplead and litigate among themselves their claims to the funds. Jones is discharged from any liability on account of Defendants’ claims in interpleader.