United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
ALFREDO PRIETO, MARIA RAMIREZ, and FRANCISCO N. RAMIREZ, Plaintiff,
STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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
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
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.
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).
Summary Judgment Standard
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).
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).
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).
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.
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