State Farm v. Crystal Martin and Brandi Barnett will probably be the legacy of the now-deceased Precious Martin as his wife and Brandi Barnett both dispute who should be the proper beneficiary of a $500,272 life insurance policy held by Mr. Martin that named Ms. Barnett as the beneficiary. Crystal Martin also said Ms. Barnett lived in a home owned by Precious Martin and accused her of "seducing" her husband as she sued her for alienation of affection. The case has been assigned to Judge Henry Wingate.
State Farm filed a complaint for interpleader in U.S. District Court on September 18, 2014. Mr. Martin was killed earlier this year in a four-wheeler accident in Ridgeland. His wife and three children survived his death. State Farm asked the court to determine the proper beneficiary of the policy as Mrs. Martin disputed the validity of Ms. Barnett's claim. Mr. Martin purchased the policy in May 2013. Mrs. Martin argued Ms. Barnett had no "insurable interest". The insurer offered to deposit the amount with the court when the court approves such action.
Ms. Barnett responded to the complaint and accused State Farm of improperly contacting Mrs. Martin about the policy and withholding payment of her claim in bad faith. She was employed by Mr. Martin as a bookkeeper. Attorney Nick Norris represents Ms. Barnett. Not to be outdone in legal charms, Mrs. Martin filed her own answer to State Farm and a cross-claim against Brandi Barnett.
Crystal Martin stated in her amended cross-claim:
In January of 2014, Crystal Wise Martin became aware that Brandi Barnett, the bookkeeper at Precious Martin, Sr. & Associates Law Firm, the place of employment of Precious Martin and Crystal Martin, had seduced and continued to recklessly engage in certain solicitous conduct and activities with Precious Martin. Unbeknownst to Crystal Martin, Brandi Barnett resided in Hinds County, Mississippi in a home owned by a Limited Liability Company in which Precious Martin was the sole member and provided to Barnett by Precious Martin. At the time of said solicitous conduct by Barnett, Precious and Crystal Martin resided together with their children in Madison County, Mississippi.
5. On May 11, 2014, Precious Martin tragically died in an ATV accident while riding in his Madison County, Mississippi neighborhood. Subsequent to Mr. Martin’s death, Crystal Martin learned that the application for the State Farm Premium Term Life Insurance Policy purchased by Precious Martin named Brandi Barnett as the primary beneficiary.
6. The home provided to Barnett by Martin as well as the naming of Barnett as the beneficiary of Martin’s State Farm Life Insurance policy are the results of Barnett’s actions in seducing Precious Martin and engaging in and encouraging a continuing elicit relationship between Barnett and Precious Martin for the purposes of receiving material benefits from Precious Martin. Barnett seduced Precious Martin and encouraged and pursued a continuing sexual relationship with Precious Martin for the purpose of unduly influencing Precious Martin to provide material benefits to Brandi Barnett that should have been given to Crystal Wise Martin and her children, including but not limited to exerting undue influence on Precious Martin to name Brandi Barnett as the beneficiary in his application for Precious Martin’s State Farm Life Insurance Policy.
Mrs. Martin then sued Ms. Barnett for alienation of affection:
Cross-Defendant Brandi Barnett seduced Precious Martin and induced, persuaded and encouraged Precious Martin to engage in an extra-marital affair and sexual relationship with her. Brandi Barnett engaged in such solicitous activity culminating in a sexual relationship with Precious Martin with full knowledge that Precious Martin was married to Crystal Martin with children. Brandi Barnett’s actions were wrongful in that she seduced Precious Martin with full knowledge of his marital relationship with Crystal Martin, her employer, and induced and encouraged Precious Martin to engage in a sexual relationship outside of his marriage and continuously encouraged Precious Martin to abandon his marriage and family and affection for Crystal Martin.....
The Cross-Defendant’s wanton and reckless interference with the marriage, destruction of family values and her actions of un-condoned adultery with the Cross-Plaintiff’s husband was accompanied with her continuous encouragement for Precious Martin to leave the marriage and be with the Cross-Defendant, as well as encouragement to provide material assets to the Cross-Defendant including a home and the benefits of a State Farm Life Insurance Policy, as well as concealment of her actions from the Cross-Plaintiff and others further justifying punitive damages against the Cross-Defendant.....
Mrs. Martin also accused Ms. Barnett of committing the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. She asked for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and legal fees. She also requested a trial by jury. Attorney Chuck McRae represents Mrs. Martin.
Kingfish note: It appears Precious Martin still has the ability to stir things up, even in death.