Bilal v. Progressive Home Owners & Auto Insurance Company et al
ORDER granting 42 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 10/27/2017. (kdr)
IN THE UNITED ST ATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
KASIB T AUHEED BILAL
IDS PROPERTY & CASUALTY
Bilal is an older African-American Muslim gentleman.
home was damaged by two storms, one in October 2014 and another in
IDS Property & Casualty Insurance Company had
Bilal' s homeowner' s coverage.
This case is about the allegedly
discriminatory things said and done in handling the insurance claims
from the storms.
After the first storm, IDS engaged Insurance Claims Adjusters,
Inc., to inspect the damage.
That company, in turn, assigned the claim
to Arkansas Insuring Adjusters, Inc.
This second company is owned
and operated by Garry Smith, who went to inspect, document, and
appraise the damage.
Bilal says, and the Court accepts as true, that
Smith asked him where the name "Bilal" comes from and how it's
When Smith learned that Bilal is Muslim, he said, "Oh,
you're one of them."
This upset Bilal, but he went on with the
Smith appraised the damage at just more than $1,600.
A few months later, after the second storm, IDS hired a different
adjustment company, Associated Adjusters Network, to evaluate the
The adjuster this time around was Daniel Parker.
evaluated the damage and estimated $1200 would cover the needed
Bilal thought both appraisals were too low, so he hired a roofer
and sent his own estimates to the insurance company.
Bilal' s estimates and sent him two checks, one for each storm, based on
the adjusters' numbers.
Bilal cashed those checks but continued
calling IDS seeking more money for repairs.
decided not to renew Bilal's policy.
In March 2015, IDS
The company cited increased
risks and hazards at Bilal' s house based on missing siding, peeling
paint, loose window trim, missing and lifting shingles, dry rotting
fascia, and other conditions.
NQ 42-4 at 3.
After months of back and forth, Bilal and IDS compromised.
company used one of Bilal' s estimates, which had pegged the total cost
of repairing the damage from both storms at $4800.
IDS divided that
amount between the claims, subtracted what had already been paid,
and sent Bilal two more checks.
He cashed them, then filed this case.
Bilal made many federal claims in his prose complaint.
screening, the Court concluded that Bilal had stated a plausible "claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for unequal treatment based on race in a
contractual relationship[,]" and dismissed all other claims without
NQ 5 at 2.
It became clear that IDS, not Progressive, was
the right insurance company, and that change was made.
Bilal requested appointed counsel several times, but the
Court concluded he could handle his own case.
IDS seeks summary
judgment. The Court takes the genuinely disputed facts in the light
most favorable to Bilal.
Camfield Tires, Inc. v. Michelin Tire Corp., 719
F.2d 1361, 1363-64 (8th Cir. 1983).
IDS' s argument that parties' compromise should end the
case might seem strong, but it isn't.
There is no written agreement.
The deal was made in a phone call. NQ 42-3 at 1-2. Bilal cashed the
checks, but they don't say "full and final settlement" or any similar
There's just not enough here for the Court to rule that the
parties made a firm deal to resolve all differences.
Homes, Inc., 346 Ark. 397, 403-04 (2001).
Glover v. Woodhaven
Plus, any settlement was (at
most) about coverage, not any related discrimination claims.
record presented, though, IDS is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
for several other reasons.
First, Bilal' s remaining claim was for race discrimination, and
there's no evidence that his race prompted IDS' s coverage decisions.
Green v . Dillard's, Inc., 483 F.3d 533, 538, 540 (8th Cir. 2007).
insurance company has offered sworn testimony that Bilal' s race
played no role in the company's actions.
NQ 42-2 at 1 & NQ 42-3 at 2.
Bilal hasn't met this proof with contrary proof.
Industrial Co., Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
Second,§ 1981 probably doesn't provide a vehicle for challenging
E.g., Noyes v. Kelly Services, 488 F.3d
discrimination based on religion.
1163, 1167 n.3 (9th Cir. 2007);
Manzanares v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 593
F.2d 968, 971-72 (10th Cir. 1979).
This Reconstruction-era statute
speaks of every person having the same rights to make and enforce
contracts as "white citizens" have.
42 U.S.C. § 1981(a).
Eighth Circuit hasn't addressed this issue, the law's trend toward
limiting this statute to race-related claims is clear.
Third, assuming § 1981 does apply, based on discriminatory
animus that mixed race and religion, there's a vicarious-liability hurdle.
Smith wasn't an IDS employee.
He worked for an independent
adjustment company, which had been assigned the claim by another
independent adjustment company, which had been hired by Bilal's
So Smith was two steps removed from IDS.
If-as has been strongly urged in a two-judge concurrence-§ 1981
requires purposeful discrimination, then the record might well support
a claim against Smith individually, but not IDS.
F.3d 307, 326-28 (8th Cir. 2014).
Ellis v. Houston, 742
The unrebutted affidavits establish,
instead, that Bilal' s religion played no part in IDS' s decisions.
at 1 & NQ 42-3 at 2.
And if Smith's estimate was a lowball, infected by
race and religion, IDS' s eventual acceptance of Bilal' s higher repair
estimate cured the infection.
There's no evidence that the insurance
company itself interfered with its own contract with Bilal because he
was an African-American Muslim.
Last, the policy cancelation.
on the reason why.
Bilal has not met proof with proof
IDS' s risk-based explanation is unrebutted.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87.
On this record, a jury could not
reasonably conclude that Bilal' s race or religion had anything to do
with the non-renewal.
* * *
Motion for summary judgment, NQ 42, granted.
United States District Judge
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