Smith et al v. Allstate Insurance Co

Filing 42

MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 25 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, Allstate Insurance Company. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph H L Perez-Montes on 8/17/2017. (crt,Tice, Y)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA ALEXANDRIA DIVISION LUSTER SMITH, ET AL. Plaintiffs d CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-0223 VERSUS ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant MAGISTRATE JUDGE PEREZ-MONTES MEMORANDUM RULING AND ORDER Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 25) filed by Defendant Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”). Plaintiffs Luster Smith, Kevin C. Smith, and Vallard Smith (collectively, “Plaintiffs” or “the Smiths”), oppose the motion. Plaintiffs seek an award for penalties and attorney’s fees under La. R.S. 22:1892 and 1973. Plaintiffs allege Allstate acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and without probable cause in denying coverage for a July 5, 2015 house fire which destroyed Plaintiffs’ residence and its contents. Allstate maintains it properly denied coverage – and did not act in bad faith – because its investigation indicated that Plaintiff Luster Smith started the house fire himself, and/or made material misrepresentations during Allstate’s investigation. Either conclusion would have supported Allstate’s denial of coverage pursuant to undisputed policy exclusions. Based upon the current record, the Court has serious doubts that there are genuine issues of fact regarding Plaintiffs’ entitlement to penalties and attorney’s fees. Nonetheless, “even if the standards of Rule 56 are met, a court has discretion ~1~ to deny a motion for summary judgment if it believes that ‘a better course would be to proceed to a full trial.’” Kunin v. Feofanov, 69 F.3d 59, 62 (5th Cir.1995) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513 (1986)). Trial in this matter will begin on August 29, 2017. The evidence to be addressed at trial will include most or all of the evidence presented by Allstate to support its motion. Moreover, the evidence presented by Allstate to support its motion may be affected by live testimony, credibility determinations, or other evidence to be adduced at trial. In the Court’s discretion, the better course of action is thus to defer the issues raised by Allstate’s motion to the merits at trial. Accordingly, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 25) filed by Defendant, Allstate Insurance Company, is hereby DENIED. 17th THUS DONE AND SIGNED in Alexandria, Louisiana, this _____ day of August, 2017. __________________________________________ JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE ~2~

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