United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GREGORY B. WORMUTH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (doc. 15) and
Plaintiff's Motion for Continuance of Defendant's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (doc. 18). For
the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (doc. 15).
Because additional discovery would have no effect on this
ruling, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for
Continuance (doc. 18).
filed her Complaint on January 4, 2019, alleging fraudulent
transfers under New Mexico's Uniform Voidable Transfer
Act. Doc. 1. This action is one of a series of
lawsuits,  some of which are still ongoing, and the
history of which is only marginally relevant for the purpose
of the present motions. Defendant Hilburn was not a party to
these prior actions. Instead, they arose from dealings
between Plaintiff and two individuals named Dean and Frances
Horton. Plaintiff alleges that she is a present creditor of
the Hortons pursuant to a prior settlement agreement, and
that they “have been hiding, encumbering, and/or
disposing of assets in an attempt to hinder, evade, delay,
and/or defraud creditors, including Plaintiff.”
Id. at 3.
in Count One of her Complaint,  Plaintiff alleges that the
Hortons fraudulently transferred life insurance policies to
Defendant Hilburn in an effort to evade their creditors,
including Plaintiff. Id. at 3-5. According to the
facts recited in the Complaint, both Mr. and Mrs. Horton
purchased universal life insurance policies with a
“substantial cash value” for which they were
“both the owners and the insured.” Id.
at 3-4. However, at some point following completion of the
settlement agreement between Plaintiff and the Hortons, the
Hortons transferred ownership of their life insurance
policies to Defendant Hilburn, who is Mrs. Horton's
sister. Id. at 4. Plaintiff claims that this
transfer violated the New Mexico Uniform Voidable
Transactions Act (“UVTA”), NMSA 1978 §§
56-10-18 and 56-10-19. Id. at 4-5.
March 19, 2019, Defendant filed her Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment asking the Court to dismiss Count One of the
Complaint. Doc. 15. Defendant presents two arguments
in support of her entitlement to summary judgment. First, she
asserts that the life insurance policies in question are
term, not universal, policies. Id. at 3-6. Because
term life insurance policies have no cash value, the transfer
of a term life insurance policy cannot violate the
UVTA. Id. Second, Defendant argues that
Plaintiff cannot attach the Hortons' life insurance
policies at all because life insurance policies are exempt
under New Mexico law. Doc. 15 at 6-8.
response, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Continuance of
Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment,
requesting relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(d). Doc. 18. Plaintiff concedes that term life
insurance policies have no cash value, but argues that the
current status of the Hortons' policies (as opposed to
their status at the time of issuance) has not been proven.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff additionally cites the possible
existence of other, unknown life insurance policies.
Id. at 4. She therefore requests an opportunity to
engage in discovery with respect to the current status of the
Hortons' life insurance policies and whether they are
term or universal. Id. at 4-5. In the meantime,
Plaintiff asks the Court either to deny Defendant's
Motion, or to defer ruling on it until the requested
discovery is complete. Id. at 5. Plaintiff argues
that “[t]he current status of the subject life
insurance policies is essential to Plaintiff's opposition
to the Motion. In fact, Defendant's Motion rises and
falls on this undiscovered fact.” Id. at 4.
However, Plaintiff does not address Defendant's exemption
argument, nor does she explain how the requested discovery
would be essential to her opposition on that point. See
filed a Reply in Support of Her Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment and Response to Plaintiff's Motion for
Continuance on April 9, 2019. Doc. 21. She argues
that the available evidence proves the Hortons' policies
are term policies, and that, even if the policies were
universal, universal life insurance policies are exempt under
New Mexico law and cannot be attached. Both motions are now
before the Court.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a court must
“grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial burden of
“show[ing] ‘that there is an absence of evidence
to support the nonmoving party's case.'”
Bacchus Indus., Inc. v. Arvin Indus., Inc., 939 F.2d
887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). Once the movant
meets this burden, the non-moving party is required to
designate specific facts showing that “there
are…genuine factual issues that properly can be
resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably
be resolved in favor of either party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); see
also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) states in full:
If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for
specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to