Nguyen, et al v. State Farm Mtl Auto
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR ORDER DEFINING SCOPE OF CLAIMS denying 230 Motion for Order Defining Scope of Claims for Jury Trial. By Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 09/21/2012.(klyon, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Robert E. Blackburn
Civil Action No. 04-cv-00243-REB-BNB
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR ORDER DEFINING SCOPE OF CLAIMS
This matter is before me on the defendant’s Motion for Order Defining Scope
of Claims for Jury Trial [#230]1 filed September 17, 2012. The plaintiff filed a
response [#234]. I deny the motion.
Three claims asserted by the plaintiff, Roberta Folks, remain in this case: (1)
breach of contract; (2) statutory willful and wanton breach of contract; and (3) breach of
the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Each of these claims is based on Ms. Folks’
contention that the defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company,
failed to pay the plaintiff certain insurance benefits to which Ms. Folks was and is
entitled. This case has a long procedural history, which is outlined in State Farm’s
“” is an example of the convention I use to identify the docket number assigned to a
specific paper by the court’s case management and electronic case filing system (CM/ECF). I use this
convention throughout this order.
State Farm seeks to limit the scope of the plaintiff’s claims. First, State Farm
seeks to exclude any claim for insurance benefits made by the plaintiff after the plaintiff
joined this civil action as a plaintiff on March 15, 2004. Claims for benefits made after
March 15, 2004, State Farm asserts, do not present controversies ripe for adjudication
in this case. This is true, according to State Farm, because State Farm’s obligation to
provide coverage is not triggered until Folks provides State Farm with information
demonstrating the details of the injury, treatment, and other information to determine the
amount payable. With regard to any particular claim for benefits, State Farm notes, a
breach of State Farm’s contractual duty to pay that claim cannot occur until this
information has been provided to State Farm. When she joined this lawsuit, Ms. Folks
alleged that State Farm had breached its obligation to provide coverage prior to March
15, 2004. In State Farm’s view, breaches that allegedly occurred after the operative
complaint were filed should be handled as separate claims not covered by the operative
complaint in this case, which alleges only breaches prior to March 15, 2004.
Ms. Folks’ claims for breach of contract, willful and wanton breach of contract,
and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing all are based on her allegation
that State Farm failed to provide Ms. Folks with extended PIP benefits, as required by
the relevant insurance policy and Colorado law. When Ms. Folks alleged this breach,
State Farm readily could anticipate that damages caused by the breach would continue
to accrue even after the date on which Ms. Folks joined this case as a plaintiff. There is
no reason to limit Ms. Folks’ claim for damages to damages allegedly suffered prior to
the time she joined this case as a plaintiff.
Second, and in the alternative, State Farm seeks to exclude any claim for
insurance benefits made by Ms. Folks after the close of discovery in this case on
November 11, 2004. State Farm argues it has not had an opportunity to conduct
discovery on damages allegedly suffered by Ms. Folks after that date. Again, when Ms.
Folks alleged that State Farm breached its obligations under the insurance policy, State
Farm readily could anticipate that damages caused by the breach would continue to
accrue. There is no indication that State Farm sought to conduct discovery to assess
such damages after November 11, 2004, including after the remand of this case by the
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Further, under FED. R. CIV. P.
26(a)(3), Ms. Folks is obligated to disclose to State Farm the evidence on which she
intends to rely at trial, including evidence to demonstrate her damages. In these
circumstances, there is no danger that State Farm will be subjected to trial by ambush
concerning damages allegedly suffered by Ms. Folks after November 11, 2004. Thus,
there is no reason to cabin Ms. Folks’ claim for damages to damages allegedly suffered
prior November 11, 2004.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the defendant’s Motion for Order Defining
Scope of Claims for Jury Trial [#230] filed September 17, 2012, is DENIED.
Dated September 21, 2012, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
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