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Morgan v. Sentry Insurance Co., LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

January 12, 2018



          ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON United States District Judge

         BEFORE THE COURT is a Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 32, filed by Defendant Sentry Insurance a Mutual Company (identified as “Sentry Insurance Company, LLC”) and Defendant Middlesex Insurance Company (identified as “Middlesex Insurance Company, LLC”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The Court has reviewed the pleadings and the record, and is fully informed.


         Plaintiff William Morgan brought suit against Defendants, based on claims involving insurance coverage after an automobile accident that allegedly resulted in physical injuries to Mr. Morgan and damage to Mr. Morgan's vehicle. ECF No. 1 at 2; see also ECF No. 23-2 at 2; ECF No. 23-2 at 6; ECF No. 23-2 at 10-15. The Court dismissed his Complaint, his First Amended Complaint, and his Second Amended Complaint. ECF Nos. 12, 19, 22. In his Third Amended Complaint, Mr. Morgan appears to bring claims of breach of contract, negligence, and collusion, as well as a number of statutory claims. See ECF No. 23.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on the diversity of the parties and the amount in controversy. Plaintiff Morgan alleges that he is a resident of the state of Oregon. ECF 23 at 3; ECF No. 32 at 3. Defendants are incorporated in Wisconsin with their principal places of business in Wisconsin. ECF No. 32 at 3. The amount in controversy is $10 million, which exceeds the statutory requirement of $75, 000. ECF No. 23 at 2.

         “[F]ederal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law.” Feldman v. Allstate Ins. Co., 322 F.3d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 2003). The substantive law at issue here is insurance law. The insurance policy was issued in the state of Washington while Mr. Morgan was a Washington resident, and the accident giving rise to Mr. Morgan's claims against Defendants also occurred in Washington. ECF No. 33 at 3-6, 11. Defendants argue that Washington law should apply to this matter, ECF No. 32 at 4, which Mr. Morgan does not dispute. ECF No. 23 at 5. Therefore, the Court will apply the law of Washington to the substantive issues in this case.


         Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

         A court may grant summary judgment where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact” of a party's prima facie case, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-33 (1986); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists if sufficient evidence supports the claimed factual dispute, requiring “a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). “A key purpose of summary judgment ‘is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.'” Id. (citing Celotex, 477 U.S at 324).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, or in the alternative, the moving party may discharge this burden by showing that there is an absence of evidence. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. See Id. at 324. The nonmoving party “may not rest on mere allegations, but must by [its] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. The Court will not infer evidence that does not exist in the record. See Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990) (court will not presume missing facts). However, the Court will “view the evidence in the light most favorable” to the nonmoving party. Newmaker v. City of Fortuna, 842 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th Cir. 2016). “The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Claims Against Defendant Sentry Insurance

          Mr. Morgan asserts claims against the named defendant, Sentry Insurance. See ECF No. 23. Defendants correctly argue that to prevail in a claim for coverage Mr. Morgan has the burden of showing who is insured, the type of risk insured against, and the existence of an insurance contract. ECF No. 32 at 4 (citing Olivine Corp. v. United Capitol Ins. Co., 52 P.3d 494, 502 (2002). Defendants assert that Sentry Insurance never issued any insurance policy to Mr. Morgan. Id. Mr. Morgan fails to refute that deficiency by providing evidence that Sentry Insurance issued an insurance policy to him.

         The Court finds that Mr. Morgan has failed to create a genuine issue of material fact, and failed to support the essential elements of insurance contract claims, against Sentry Insurance. Therefore, the Court finds that summary judgment is proper and dismisses with prejudice Mr. Morgan's claims against Sentry Insurance.

         Claims Against Defendant ...

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