Smith et al v. Allstate Insurance Co
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)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LUSTER SMITH, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-0223
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
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
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.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED in Alexandria, Louisiana, this _____ day of
JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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