Stenson v. United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York

Filing 43

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 11/15/17 ORDERING that Plaintiff's MOTION for Summary Judgment 26 and Defendant's Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment 28 are DENIED. This case will proceed to trial on 2/26/18. The pretrial conference will be held on 1/10/18 at 4:00 p.m. (Mena-Sanchez, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MARGO STENSON, 12 13 14 No. 2:16-cv-00782-JAM-CKD Plaintiff, v. ORDER DENYING MOTION AND CROSS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT UNITED STATES LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, 15 Defendant. 16 17 The parties failed to properly notify the Court that they 18 had satisfied the Court’s meet and confer requirement in 19 connection with their motion/cross motions for summary judgment. 20 The parties filed declarations which state that they did meet and 21 confer before the dispositive motions filing deadline. 22 36, 37, 38). 23 withdraws its Order dismissing these motions. 24 these motions is still vacated and the motions have been taken 25 under submission. 26 and cross motion are denied. 27 28 (ECF Nos. The Court accepts the parties’ declarations and The hearing on For the reasons set forth below, the motion It is clear from the voluminous pleadings filed by the parties in support of and in opposition to these motions that 1 1 there are genuine disputes as to numerous material facts (and the 2 inferences to be drawn from these facts) such that summary 3 judgment cannot be granted to either party in this case and that 4 this action must proceed to trial. 5 facts go to the very core of this case and are genuinely 6 disputed: 7 For example, the following 1. Was Dr. Stenson’s death caused by an accidental overdose of drugs? 2. Did Dr. Stenson overdose with suicidal ideation? 3. Was Dr. Stenson addicted to opioids/narcotics? 4. Did the prescription medication impact Dr. Stenson’s cognition? 5. Is the Toxicology Report (ECF Nos.28-40, Ex. 5 to Tara Blake Declaration) flawed? 6. What did Defendant review and consider in its investigation of Plaintiff’s claim and did Defendant consider any evidence other than that submitted by Plaintiff as part of investigation of this claim? 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Indeed, most of the most critical “undisputed facts” 17 submitted in support of the parties’ motions are disputed and/or 18 objected to by the responding parties. 1 Also, Defendant’s 19 Motions to Strike the Declarations of Plaintiff’s Experts cannot 20 be decided by this Court in the absence of a Daubert hearing. 21 In short, the Court believes that if counsel had engaged in 22 a thorough discussion of these contemplated motions for summary 23 judgment before they were filed, they would have reached the same 24 1 25 26 27 28 The Court notes that Defendant’s blanket objections to Plaintiff’s statement of undisputed facts (116 “undisputed facts” and 94 “objections”) and seven Declarations are particularly unhelpful and unnecessary given the evidentiary rules governing summary judgment motions and the Court’s ability to self-police. Evidence that is obviously not admissible is not considered by the Court. 2 1 conclusion as this Court, i.e., neither party is entitled to 2 judgment as a matter of law given the numerous and genuine 3 disputes of material facts going to the heart of this case. 4 While the Court acknowledges that there are a number of legal 5 issues that have been raised by the parties in these motions, 2 6 the resolution of those issues are largely dependent upon the 7 factual findings that either a jury or this Court will need to 8 make at the trial of this matter. 9 Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26) and 10 Defendant’s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28) are 11 therefore DENIED. 12 26, 2018. 13 2018 at 4:00 p.m. 14 15 This case will proceed to trial on February The pretrial conference will be held on January 10, IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 15, 2017 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 For example: (1) which definition of accident should be applied in this case, the Khatchatrian definition advocated by Defendants (accident requires (1) an external event that is (2) unforeseen) or the Weil, Jones, Olson, Pilcher definition advocated by Plaintiff (accidental death is an unintended and undesigned result even if caused by the insured’s voluntary act); (2) Has Defendant waived the sickness or disease exclusion and/or is this exclusion unenforceable; (3) Is Plaintiff’s claim barred by delay; and (4) Is Plaintiff entitled to maintain her punitive damages claim. 3

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