State Fire and Casualty Company v. Akingbola, et al
ORDER AND REASONS: IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiff's 12 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Signed by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle on 5/24/2017. (ajn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY
AKINBOLAJI AKINGBOLA AKA
BOLAJI AKINGBOLA ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
NATURE OF MOTION AND RELIEF SOUGHT
Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 12), Defendant’s “Opposition to Plaintiff
State Farm Fire and Casualty Company’s Motion for Summary Judgment”
(Rec. Doc. 17) and Plaintiff’s “Reply to Opposition for Summary
Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 20). For the reasons set forth below, IT IS
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
automobile accident on February 20, 2015 (Rec. Doc. 1). Joseph
Robert initiated a lawsuit against Bolaji and State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company in Louisiana civil court for damages related to
the car accident (Rec. Doc. 1). Plaintiff, State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company brought a declaratory judgment action against
Defendant Joseph Robert and contends that it has no liability to
the Defendant in connection with any claims asserted under a
Akingbola, Bolaji’s father. State Farm issued a personal liability
umbrella policy to Dr. Akingbola, residing at 14 Spy Glass Court,
New Orleans, for a policy period that covered August 24, 2014 to
August 24, 2015 (Rec. Doc. 12-4). In July of 2014 Bolaji moved out
of his family residence on Spy Glass Court to an apartment on 1956
South Carrollton avenue (Rec. Doc. 12-4). Bolaji lived on South
Carrollton at the time of the February 20, 2015 car accident (Rec.
III. FACTUAL AND LEGAL FINDINGS
Summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions,
affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986).
A genuine issue exists if the evidence
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
Although the Court must consider the evidence with all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, the nonmovant must produce specific facts to demonstrate
that a genuine issue exists for trial.
Webb v. Cardiothoracic
Surgery Assocs. of N. Texas, 139 F.3d 532, 536 (5th Cir. 1998).
informing the district court of the basis for its motion. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323. The movant must point to “portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions
on file, together with affidavits’ which it believes demonstrate
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. (citing Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56). If and when the movant carries this burden, the
nonmovant must then go beyond the pleadings and use affidavits,
evidence to establish a genuine issue.
Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
“[W]here the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial,
the movant may merely point to an absence of evidence, thus
shifting to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent
summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact
warranting trial. . . . Only when ‘there is sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for
that party’ is a full trial on the merits warranted.” Lindsey v.
Sears Roebuck and Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, conclusory rebuttals of the pleadings are
insufficient to avoid summary judgment.
Travelers Ins. Co. v.
Liljeberg Enter., Inc., 7 F.3d 1203, 1207 (5th Cir. 1993).
Federal courts apply the substantive law of the forum state,
as interpreted by the state’s highest court, in diversity cases.
Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530
F.3d 395, 399 (5th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff is a citizen of Illinois
and Defendant is a Citizen of Louisiana and Louisiana is the forum
state of the current controversy (Rec. Doc. 1). Therefore Louisiana
law governs this insurance coverage dispute. The Louisiana Supreme
Court has summarized how insurance policies should be interpreted
under state law and explains, “[a]n insurance policy is a contract
between the parties. It should be construed by using the general
rules for the interpretation of contracts as set out in the Civil
Code. The role of the judiciary in interpreting insurance contracts
is to ascertain the common intent of the parties to the contract.
A court is to determine the intent of the parties to an insurance
contract in accordance with the general, ordinary, plain and
popular meaning of the words used in the policy, unless the words
have acquired a technical meaning. An insurance policy should not
be interpreted in an unreasonable manner, such as to enlarge
coverage beyond what is reasonably contemplated by the terms of
provisions or public policy, insurers, like other individuals, are
entitled to limit their liability and to impose and to enforce
contractually assume.” Carbon v. Allstate Ins. Co., 719 So. 2d
In the instant matter this Court finds that State Farm Fire
and Casualty Company is entitled to limiting its policy obligations
in a way that excludes Bolaji. Under Dr. Akingbola’s State Farm
insurance policy the term insured is defined as “you and your
relatives whose primary residence is your household.” (Rec. Doc.
12-4). It is undisputed based on the signed affidavits of both Dr.
Akingbola and his son, Bolaji, that Dr. Akingbola resided at 14
Spy Glass Court and his son resided and paid rent for an apartment
at 1956 South Carrollton avenue at the time of the accident (Rec.
Doc. 12-4). Defendant in his opposition argues that there is a
regarding residency because Bolaji’s driver’s
license lists his father’s address, Bolaji still has a key to his
father’s house, some of Bolaji’s books are still in his childhood
room and Bolaji visits his father’s house on holidays (Rec. Doc.
However, when the Court evaluates “whether a person is or is
not a resident of a household is a question of law as well as a
question of fact that is to be determined from the facts of each
case. The question is largely one of intention. The intention of
a person to be a resident of a particular place is determined by
his expressions at times not suspicious, and his testimony, when
called on, considered in light of his conduct and circumstances of
Miley v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Ins. Co., 599 So.
2d 791, 798 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1992). None of these facts would
convince a jury that Bolaji had the intention of residing at his
father’s house. Even when weighing the facts in favor of the
Defendant, none of these facts indicate that Bolaji considered 14
Spy Glass Court to be his residence or that he had the intention
of making it his permanent residence in the future.
Dr. Akingbola and Bolaji have both signed affidavits stating
that Bolaji was not a resident of Dr. Akingbola’s household on the
date of the accident and that Bolaji had no intention of moving
home to become a resident of the household (Rec. Doc. 12-4). This
is further confirmed by the fact that a few months after the
accident Bolaji moved into another apartment at 1601 Burdette
Street at not back to his father’s house (Rec. Doc. 12-4). This
Court finds that the Plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment
because Bolaji was not a resident of his father’s house and
therefore the resident-relative exclusion in State Farm’s Policy
to Dr. Akingbola should apply.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 24th day of May, 2017.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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