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Parker v. Mississippi Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

January 30, 2014

LOU PARKER AS TRUSTEE OF THE MELBA W. PARKER REVOCABLE TRUST, PLAINTIFF
v.
MISSISSIPPI FARM BUREAU CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT

For Lou Parker, as Trustee of the Melba W. Parker Revocable Trust, Plaintiff: Gerard (Jerry) W. Campbell, LEAD ATTORNEY, JERRY W. CAMPBELL, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Vicksburg, MS; John Alexander Brunini, BRUNINI, GRANTHAM, GROWER & HEWES, Jackson, MS.

For Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, Defendant: Michael Edward Whitehead, LEAD ATTORNEY, PAGE, MANNINO, PERESICH & MCDERMOTT, PLLC - Biloxi, Biloxi, MS; John D. Carter - PHV, NIELSEN, CARTER & TREAS, LLC, Metairie, LA.

OPINION

Page 482

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

David Bramlette, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This cause is before the Court on the defendant Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Ins. Co. (" Farm Bureau" )'s motion for summary judgment (docket entry 83). Having carefully considered the motion and response, as well as the memoranda and applicable law, and being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds as follows:

The plaintiff in this case, Lou Parker (" Parker" ), is the trustee of the Melba W. Parker Revocable Trust, created under the laws of the State of Mississippi. Melba W. Parker was an adult resident citizen of Warren County, Mississippi, at the time of her death in July of 2011. She deeded her home located at 21533 Highway 465, Vicksburg, Mississippi, to the Trust on July 14, 2000.

The plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (" Complaint" ) alleges that on April 25, 2011, the plaintiff contacted an insurance agent about the possibility of obtaining flood insurance on his home and the Trust Property (located approximately 200

Page 483

yards from his home) (collectively, " the Parker property" ), in connection with obtaining a loan secured by the Parker property. The plaintiff advised his agent, Jackie Jenkins, that he needed immediate flood insurance because he feared a flood could be imminent. Complaint, ¶ ¶ 5, 7.

Jenkins made four phone calls to Farm Bureau managers, claims personnel, and underwriting specialists to determine whether Farm Bureau could issue a policy that would provide Parker coverage. In response to each call, Farm Bureau advised Jenkins that he could write the policy. On April 27, 2011, Jenkins inspected and photographed the property. Jenkins informed Parker that the policy would be immediately effective upon the closing of the loan transaction. Complaint, ¶ ¶ 10-14.

The Parker loan closed on May 5, 2011, and Parker paid the insurance premium as part of the closing, at which time the policy, providing $250,000 in total coverage, became effective. Complaint, ¶ ¶ 16-17. Parker claims that his property suffered flood damage on May 17, 2011, in an amount exceeding $250,000. Complaint, ¶ 18.

Parker filed an insurance claim with Farm Bureau. On July 19, 2012, the claim was denied based on a policy exclusion for a " flood in progress" when the policy was issued. Complaint, ¶ 20. Parker appealed the denial to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (" FEMA" ), which also denied his claim based on the " flood in progress" exclusion. Complaint, ¶ 22.

Parker's First Amended Complaint, brought against the United States of America by and through FEMA, and Farm Bureau, for failure to provide coverage under a flood insurance policy, was dismissed with prejudice against the United States by and through FEMA on grounds of sovereign immunity. The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the Court find that Farm Bureau had a contractual obligation to provide flood insurance coverage to the plaintiff. Farm Bureau filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a ruling by the Court that Farm Bureau did not owe coverage to the plaintiff, based on the plaintiff's failure to comply with the requirements of the policy. On March 26, 2013, the Court entered its Opinion and Order on the parties' motions for summary judgment, denying the plaintiff's motion and granting the defendant's motion. However, the Court also found that the plaintiff was attempting to bring state law claims related to the procurement of the policy, and allowed the plaintiff to file the present Second Amended Complaint (" Complaint" ).

The present Complaint asserts claims for negligent misrepresentation (Count I), fraudulent misrepresentation (Count II), negligence (Count III), and punitive damages (Count IV). After additional discovery, Farm Bureau filed the motion for summary judgment presently before the Court.

In deciding the defendant's motion for summary judgment, the Court follows the standard set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court:

[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ...

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