American National Property and Casualty Company v. Camp
ORDER dismissing counterclaims with prejudice. Signed by Judge Donald W. Molloy on 3/24/2014. (NOS, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
Clerk, u.s District Court
District Of Montana
AMERICAN NATIONAL PROPERTY
AND CASUALTY COMPANY,
STEVE WAYNE CAMP,
In an order dated February 26,2014, the Court requested the parties file
simultaneou,s briefs as to whether summary judgment should be granted in favor of
Plaintiff American National Property and Casualty Company ("American
National") and against Defendant Steve Wayne Camp ("Camp") on Camp's
pursuant to Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(Doc. 133.) Only American National submitted a brief. After considering the
merits of the both parties' positions, cf Heinemann v. Satterberg, 731 F.3d 914,
917 (9th Cir. 2013), the Court finds summary judgment is appropriate.
Pursuant to an Agent Agreement ("Agreement") dated January 4,2007,
Camp became a licensed agent to sell American National insurance products.
Under the Agreement, Camp was authorized to solicit applications for insurance,
collect premiums, countersign, and deliver policies within the 25 mile radius of
Missoula, Montana. Camp was terminated from his agency with American
National on March 4, 2011. The Agreement provided two post-termination
provisions: (1) Camp was prohibited from soliciting and accepting his former
American National policyholders and (2) Camp was prohibited from advising,
inducing, or attempting to induce his former American National policyholders
from lapsing, cancelling, or replacing any of their American National policies.
These have been referred to in this case as the "Non-Compete Provisions." The
Non-Compete Provisions were in effect for 1 year from the date of Camp's
termination. After Camp was terminated, American National brought this matter
before the Court, alleging Camp violated the Non-Compete Provisions. Camp
brought numerous counter-claims, which were bifurcated.
American National's claims were tried on November 28 and 29, 2011 before
a jury of 6. Prior to the close of evidence, this Court determined as a matter of law
that the Non-Compete Provisions were reasonable. The jury returned a verdict in
American National's favor, determining that Camp's termination was legitimate
and Camp violated the Non-Compete Provisions. Post-trial, American National
moved this Court for issuance of a permanent injunction prohibiting Camp from
further violation of the Non-Compete Provisions. This Court granted that motion
and issued an order that Camp was not to violate the Non-Compete Provisions for
the remaining one year period. Camp appealed the issuance of the permanent
injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed to the extent the
matter was not moot.
Camp's counterclaims remain before the Court, which include:
Breach of Contract (Termination);
Breach of Contract (Kalispell Policyholders);
Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Statements to
Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Rejected
Policyholders, Family Members)
Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Enforcement
of Non-Compete Provision); and
Negligent Interference with Economic Advantage.
Pursuant to Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[a]fter
giving notice and a reasonable time to respond, the court may ... consider
summary judgment on its own after identifying for the parties material facts that
may not be genuinely in dispute." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f)(3); see also Celotex Corp.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 326 (noting a district court's right to enter sua
sponte motions under Rule 56). In doing so, the Court applies the usual summary
judgment standards, resolving all ambiguities and drawing all factual inference in
the target party's favor. See generally Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242,255 (1986). Summary judgment is not appropriate if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the party against which
summary judgment is contemplated. See e.g. id. at 248.
Breach of Contract (Termination)
Camp first alleges breach of contract in connection with American
National's termination of his agency. Camp alleges American National terminated
him "in retaliation for his threatening to report, and reporting, American
National's illegal conduct to the appropriate authorities." (Doc. 34 at,-r 11.) As
the jury determined that American National's termination of Camp was legitimate,
this material fact may not be genuinely in dispute. Therefore, summary judgment
is appropriate as to Camp's claim for breach of contract for wrongful termination.
Breach of Contract (Kalispell Policyholders)
For his second cause of action, Camp alleges American National breached a
subsequent agreement it made with him regarding the servicing of existing
policyholders in the Kalispell, Montana area. Although American National and
Camp dispute who breached the Kalispell contract, this dispute is insufficient to
raise a genuine issue for trial. Even assuming Camp's allegations are true, it is
undisputed that the Kalispell accounts belonged to American National.
(Agreement, § D, Doc. 1-1 at 3.) The Agreement provides that American National
may transfer these account from one agent to another. Therefore, American
National actions, as alleged, complied with Camp's agency Agreement with the
company. Even assuming the Kalispell contract was meant to modify the terms of
the Agreement, the modification is not enforceable as a matter of law. The
Agreement itself required any modification be in writing and signed by a duly
authorized Company Headquarters Representative. (Id. at § H( 1), Doc. 1-1 at 4.)
The evidence before the Court indicates that the Kalispell contract was never
reduced to writing or signed. Although Montana law allows for oral modification
of a written agreement, the oral contract must be fully executed to be enforceable.
Mont. Code Ann. § 28-2-1602; AAA Const. ofMissoula, LLC v. Choice Land
Corp., 264 P.3d 709, 714 (Mont. 2011). The Kalispell contract was not fully
executed by either party. Based on the foregoing, summary judgment is
appropriate as to this counterclaim.
III. Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Statements to
Camp alleges that American National "intentionally and maliciously
misinformed [his former American National customers] about why Camp was no
longer their  agent, and whether he would ever be able to sell them insurance"
and American National "lied to customers in an attempt to scare them away from
ever doing business with Camp." (Doc. 34 at ~~ 20-21.) Camp contends
American National agent John Greener told Camp's former American National
customers that American National terminated Camp for ethics issues and fraud
issues, interfering with his prospective economic advantage. (Camp Depo., Doc.
134-2 at 4,150:19-25 - 151:1-9.)
The elements for a claim of interference with prospective economic
advantage in Montana include acts that:
(1) are intentional and willful;
(2) are calculated to cause damages to the plaintiff's business;
(3) are done with the unlawful purpose of causing damage or loss,
without right or justifiable cause on the part of the actor; and
(4) result in actual damages or loss.
Maloney v. Home & Investment Ctr., Inc., 994 P.2d 1124, 1132 (Mont. 2000).
Even construing the facts presented in Camp's favor, no evidence has been
presented to indicate that American Union's alleged actions resulted in actual
damages or loss. In the absence of such a showing, summary judgment is
Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Rejected
Policyholders, Family Members)
Camp alleges that American National "has no legitimate business interest to
protect customers it has rejected .... In addition, [American National] explicitly
waived the application of the non-compete provision with respect to members of
Camp's family, his co-workers, the families of his co-workers, and his personal
friends." (Doc. 34 at ~ 25.) These issues were all raised at trial and determined by
the jury, particularly in the damages phase of their determination. Camp was
allowed a jury instruction on waiver. Therefore, summary judgment is appropriate
as to this claim.
Intentional Interference with Economic Advantage (Enforcement of
Camp alleges American National intentionally interfered with Camp's
economic advantage by enforcing the Non-Compete Provisions. The Court,
together with the jury, determined that the Non-Compete Provisions were valid
and enforceable. Therefore, no genuine issues of material fact remain and
summary judgment is proper as to this counterclaim.
VI. Negligent Interference with Economic Advantage
Finally, Camp alleges American National negligently interfered with
Camp's economic advantage. Under this cause of action, Camp merely restates
the allegations made under Counts I-V. Insofar as Count VI alleges an
independent cause of action, no evidence of the essential elements of negligence
has been presented. See Fisher v. Swift Transp. Co., Inc., 181 P.3d 601,606
(Mont. 2008) ("To maintain an action for negligence, the plaintiff must prove four
essential elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Without duty, and a
breach of that duty, no negligence can exist." (citation omitted)).
Finding that summary judgment is proper as to all of Camps' counterclaims,
IT IS ORDERED that Camp's counterclaims are DISMISSED WITH
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to enter
judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court will notifY the parties
of entry of this order and judgment.
y of March, 2014.
, District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?