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Prieto v. State Farm Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

July 12, 2018

ALFREDO PRIETO, MARIA RAMIREZ, and FRANCISCO N. RAMIREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE 28], filed on November 22, 2017, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike [DE 38], filed on February 26, 2018.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiffs Alfredo Prieto, Francisco N. Ramirez, and Maria E. Ramirez filed a Complaint in state court on November 5, 2015, that was removed to this Court on December 15, 2015. It seeks damages from Defendant State Farm, including allegations of breach of contract and breach of an obligation to deal in good faith with respect to State Farm's nonpayment of funds under a policy providing under-insured motorist coverage.

         On November 22, 2017, State Farm filed the instant Partial Motion for Summary Judgment. On February 26, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a response as well as the instant Motion to Strike. State Farm filed a response to the Motion to Strike and a separate reply in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment on March 22, 2018.

         The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “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). Rule 56 further requires the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party may discharge its initial responsibility by simply “‘showing' - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id. at 323, 325; Green v. Whiteco Indus., Inc., 17 F.3d 199, 201 n.3 (7th Cir. 1994); Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990). However, the moving party, if it chooses, may support its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials, and, if the moving party has “produced sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that there are no genuine issues for trial, ” then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue of material fact exists. Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., 914 F.2d 107, 110-111 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted); see also Hong v. Children's Mem'l Hosp., 993 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir. 1993).

         Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the non-moving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). Rule 56(e) provides that “[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2), (3); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original).

         In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255; Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Facts

         On November 6, 2012, a vehicle driven by Plaintiff Alfredo Prieto was in a traffic accident. Plaintiff Maria Ramirez was a passenger in the vehicle, which was owned by her husband, Plaintiff Francisco Ramirez. The driver of the other car was the named insured on an automobile policy written by State Farm with policy limits for bodily injuries of $25, 000 per individual. Francisco Ramirez's vehicle was covered by a policy written by State Farm on which he was the sole named insured. The policy provided underinsured motorist's coverage up to $100, 000 “for bodily injury an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or driver of an underinsured motor vehicle.” Plaintiffs' injuries exceeded the other individual's $25, 000 policy limits, so Plaintiffs sought payment from State Farm pursuant to the underinsured motorists coverage in the policy obtained by Francisco Ramirez. When State Farm did not pay Plaintiffs pursuant to this underinsured motorist coverage, they brought suit.

         IV. ...


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