Holder et al v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Company
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting the Parties' joint 21 Motion to Dismiss; and denying Defendant's 12 Motion for Summary Judgment as set forth. Further, Separate Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. is directed to show cause within fourteen (14) days why his claims against Defendant should not be dismissed in their entirety. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on December 19, 2014. (mfr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
HOT SPRINGS DIVISION
PENNIE HOLDER, Individually, and
JIMMY HOLDER, SR., Individually
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment and
supporting documents (docs. 12-14) filed on behalf of Defendant State
Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, the Response in opposition
and supporting Statement of Facts (docs. 16-17) filed on behalf of
Separate Plaintiff Pennie Holder, the Reply (doc. 19) filed on behalf
of Defendant, and the parties’ Joint Motion to Dismiss Claims for
Bad Faith, Punitive Damages, and Violations of the Arkansas Trade
Practices Act (doc. 21).
For the reasons set out below, the parties’
Joint Motion to Dismiss (doc. 21) is GRANTED, and Defendant’s Motion
for Summary Judgment is DENIED; however, Separate Plaintiff Jimmy
Holder, Sr. is directed to show cause within fourteen (14) days why
his claims against Defendant should not be dismissed in their
On April 15, 2014, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal (doc.
1) of this case from Garland County Circuit Court (case no.
CV-2013-959-III) based upon diversity of citizenship between the
parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Copies of Plaintiffs’ Original
Complaint, Summons, and Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint were attached
collectively as Exhibit A to Defendant’s Notice of Removal.
Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint, which was signed by counsel
on behalf of Plaintiffs, was filed in Garland County on December 23,
2013, and contained claims against Defendant for breach of contract,
breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the
Arkansas Trade Practices Act.
The Amended Complaint, filed in
Garland County on March 19, 2014, contained the same substantive
allegations as the Original Complaint, but indicated that Plaintiffs
were no longer represented by counsel and were proceeding pro se.
However, the Amended Complaint was signed only by Pennie Holder and
not by Jimmy Holder, Sr.
Defendant’s Answer to the Amended Complaint
(doc. 3) was also filed on April 15, 2014.
In its Answer, Defendant
denies that Plaintiffs are entitled to any relief and asserts certain
affirmative defenses to Plaintiffs’ claims.
On September 12, 2014, counsel filed a Notice of Appearance on
behalf of Plaintiff Pennie Holder (doc. 10).
No appearance has been
entered on behalf of Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. since the case was
removed to this Court.
On October 3, 2014, Defendant filed its Motion for Summary
Judgment and supporting documents (docs. 12-14), seeking judgment
as a matter of law on all of Plaintiffs’ claims.
On October 24, 2014
(after requesting and obtaining an extension of time to respond),
Plaintiff Pennie Holder filed her Response in opposition and
supporting Statement of Facts (docs. 16-17).
In her Response, Ms.
Holder concedes that summary judgment is appropriate as to her claims
for bad faith and violations of the Arkansas Trade Practices Act,
but argues that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to her
claim for breach of contract that precludes summary judgment.
On October 31, 2014, Defendant filed its Reply (doc. 19),
arguing that the claims of Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. should be
dismissed with prejudice as he has failed to respond to discovery
or to appear for his deposition, or to make any appearance in this
case since its removal from state court.
Defendant also asserts in
its Reply that punitive damages are not appropriate and that
Plaintiff has failed to produce sufficient evidence in support of
her claim for breach of contract to create a genuine issue of material
On November 14, 2014, the parties filed a Joint Motion to
Dismiss (doc. 21) reflecting their agreement that the claims for bad
faith, punitive damages, and violations of the Arkansas Trade
Practices Act should be dismissed with prejudice.
Standard of Review
In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the
burden is placed on the moving party to establish both the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986);
Nat’l. Bank of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d
602 (8th Cir. 1999).
The Court must review the facts in a light most
favorable to the party opposing a motion for summary judgment and
give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be
drawn from those facts.
Canada v. Union Elec. Co., 135 F.3d 1211,
1212-13 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Buller v. Buechler, 706 F.2d 844,
846 (8th Cir. 1983)).
Once the moving party demonstrates that the record does not
disclose a genuine dispute on a material fact, the non-moving party
may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings,
but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in Rule 56,
must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
Ghane v. West, 148 F.3d 979, 981 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing
Burst v. Adolph Coors Co., 650 F.2d 930, 932 (8th Cir. 1981)).
order for there to be a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving
party must produce evidence “such that a reasonable jury could return
a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Allison v. Flexway Trucking,
Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8th Cir. 1994) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
Furthermore, “[w]here the
unresolved issues are primarily legal rather than factual, summary
judgment is particularly appropriate.”
Aucutt v. Six Flags Over
Mid-America, Inc., 85 F.3d 1311, 1315 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting Crain
v. Bd. of Police Comm’rs, 920 F.2d 1402, 1405-06 (8th Cir. 1990)).
III. Uncontroverted Facts
The following relevant facts are deemed uncontroverted, unless
otherwise noted, and are viewed in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiffs’ home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on or about December 26,
At that time, Plaintiffs were insured under a homeowner’s
insurance policy issued by Defendant.
(Doc. 14, ¶ 2).
In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege Defendant
failed to perform its contractual obligations under the terms of
their insurance policy, including by failing and refusing to pay
benefits in a timely fashion.
(Doc. 17, ¶ 5).
Following the loss event that occurred on December 26,
2011, Plaintiffs submitted an estimate of $83,715.50 for damage to
their dwelling, under Coverage A of their policy, which was settled
by Defendant in the amount of $35,291.66, with payment made on March
Coverage B of the policy involved their contents loss, and
Defendant advanced $20,000.00 on the claim on April 23, 2012.
Investigation into the contents loss continued and Plaintiffs were
informed on May 11, 2012, that Defendant valued the Coverage B
contents at $39,916.34.
Defendant paid the Plaintiffs an additional
$19,916.34 on May 11, 2012.
As Plaintiffs were insured under a
replacement cost policy, which allows them to recoup depreciation
once an item has been replaced, they were advanced additional
payments of $2,726.05 on December 3, 2012, and $1,564.72 on December
(Doc. 14, ¶ 6; Doc. 17, ¶ 6).
Following these payments, Plaintiffs demanded payment
from Defendant of their policy limits of $324,225.00 on their
This demand was denied, and Defendant has made no
further payments on the claim.
(Doc. 14, ¶ 6; Doc. 17, ¶ 6).
Plaintiff Jimmy Holder is currently unrepresented by
counsel and has made no pro se appearance in this case.
has not responded to any discovery propounded upon him and did not
appear for his deposition.
(Doc. 17, ¶ 9).
Joint Motion to Dismiss (doc. 21)
The parties have agreed in their Joint Motion to Dismiss (doc.
21) that the claims asserted by Ms. Holder in the Amended Complaint
for bad faith, punitive damages, and violations of the Arkansas Trade
Practices Act should be dismissed with prejudice.
The Motion is
accordingly GRANTED, and these claims are dismissed with prejudice.
Claims of Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr.
Defendant has asserted that the claims brought against it by
Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. should be dismissed for failure to
(Doc. 19, p. 2).
Although Mr. Holder was initially
represented by counsel when Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint was filed
in state court, he is apparently no longer represented by counsel
in this matter.
Mr. Holder has made no pro se appearance in this
case, and has not participated in discovery or appeared for his
Defendant also suggests that Mr. Holder no longer has
any interest in the insurance claim which is the subject matter of
this lawsuit based upon a divorce decree which assigned the claim
and all proceeds therefrom to Ms. Holder.
(Doc. 19-2, p. 28).
on the information presented to the Court, it appears likely that
Mr. Holder no longer has an interest in this claim.
In the event
that Mr. Holder does still claim an interest in this lawsuit, he
should be required to enter his appearance and participate in the
Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. is therefore directed to show
cause within fourteen (14) days why his claims against Defendant
should not be dismissed in their entirety.
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 12)
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 12) is moot to the
extent that it seeks judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff Pennie
Holder’s claims for bad faith and violation of the Arkansas Trade
As to the remaining breach of contract claim, the
Court finds that genuine issues of material fact exist that preclude
summary judgment, including but not limited to whether Defendant
properly valued all of Plaintiffs’ property in connection with the
Accordingly, Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment (doc. 12) is DENIED.
For the reasons set forth above, the parties’ Joint Motion to
Dismiss (doc. 21) is GRANTED; Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
(doc. 12) is DENIED; and Separate Plaintiff Jimmy Holder, Sr. is
directed to show cause within fourteen (14) days why his claims
against Defendant should not be dismissed in their entirety.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of December, 2014.
/s/ Robert T. Dawson________
Honorable Robert T. Dawson
United States District Judge
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