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Fischer v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

November 21, 2019

KEITH JAY FISCHER and DAWN MARIE FISCHER, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. and WILLIAM GARVEY, JR. INSURANCE AGENCY, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Background

         This civil action arises out of a dispute regarding underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage benefits. The plaintiffs, Keith Jay Fischer and Dawn Marie Fischer, initiated this lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Brooke County, West Virginia against defendants State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) and William Garvey, Jr. Insurance Agency, Inc. (the “Garvey Agency”).

         Defendants removed the civil action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446. ECF No. 1. Thereafter, this Court considered the plaintiffs' motion to remand and defendants' motion to dismiss. Following briefing, this Court entered a memorandum opinion and order denying plaintiffs' motion to remand and granting defendants' motion to dismiss as it related to defendant William Garvey, Jr. Insurance Agency, Inc. ECF No. 18.

         Now pending before the Court is defendant State Farm's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. ECF No. 52. Defendant State Farm moves this Court for the entry of summary judgment in its favor with respect to the claims against it in this civil action. ECF No. 53. Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to the motion. ECF No. 55. Defendant filed a reply. ECF No. 56. At this time, the defendant's motion is fully briefed and ripe for decision.[1]

         Following its review of State Farm's fully briefed motion for summary judgment, and the memoranda and exhibits submitted by the parties, this Court finds that, for the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment must be granted as to Count III and denied as to Counts I, II, and V.[2]

         II. Applicable Law

         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:

         A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). “The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with facts sufficient to create a triable issue of fact.” Temkin v. Frederick County Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1095 (1992) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). However, as the United States Supreme Court noted in Anderson, “Rule 56(e) itself provides that a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. “The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Id. at 250; see also Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414 (4th Cir. 1979) (“Summary judgment ‘should be granted only in those cases where it is perfectly clear that no issue of fact is involved and inquiry into the facts is not desirable to clarify the application of the law.'” (citing Stevens v. Howard D. Johnson Co., 181 F.2d 390, 394 (4th Cir. 1950))).

         In Celotex, the Supreme Court stated that “the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. In reviewing the supported underlying facts, all inferences must be viewed in the ...


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