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Allstate Insurance Co. v. Scarbrough

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

May 16, 2017

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN ROBERT SCARBROUGH DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Currently before the Court is John Scarbrough's (“John”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [192]. Rachel and Kimberly Holloway (collectively “the Holloways”) have filed a response in opposition, to which John filed his reply. The Court has given due consideration to the parties' submissions, in conjunction with relevant authorities and evidence, and is now prepared to rule.

         Background

         Due to the parties' extensive motion practice, the Court has set forth multiple times the facts and procedural maneuvers that have led this action to its current posture. For the sake of brevity, the Court will refrain from again reciting the facts in their entirety and will instead provide only those relevant to this motion.

         The action pending before this Court commenced when Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”) filed its complaint, wherein it requested that the Court issue a declaratory judgment that two insurance policies it issued to Robert and Denise Scarbrough did not provide coverage when John-Robert and Denise's son-was involved in an automobile accident. At the time of that accident, the Holloways were passengers in John's truck. They allegedly suffered multiple injuries and ultimately filed suit against John in state court. Originally, Allstate was not named as a defendant in the state court action.

         Once Allstate filed its declaratory judgment complaint in this Court, the Holloways filed multiple counterclaims against Allstate, crossclaims against John, and a third party complaint against multiple other parties. Those claims mirror the claims they originally filed in state court, creating a parallel track in both state and federal court.

         The present motion concerns the Holloways' crossclaims against John. Although stated in a convoluted manner, the Holloways assert that John engaged in fraud and other wrongful conduct in order to conceal the existence of the Allstate policies. The Holloways' claims are essentially based upon a single affidavit that John signed. In the affidavit, John stated under oath that he was unaware of any other insurance that may be available outside of his GEICO liability policy. Specifically, the affidavit was a letter that John received from a GEICO agent which stated:

We are writing you at this time to determine whether you or any other member of your household had excess or umbrella coverage or any other automobile insurance policy. Please check one response.
Yes ___ No ___

         John checked “No”, signed the letter, got it notarized, and returned it to GEICO, complying with the instructions he received. The Holloways assert that his parents' Allstate policies were available to John and, thus, his affidavit indicating that he was unaware of any other applicable insurance was false and part of a fraudulent scheme to hide the existence of those policies from them. In the present motion, John argues that the Holloways have not and cannot provide sufficient evidence to support their fraud claims and that the claims should therefore be dismissed.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). At the summary judgment stage, the court must “draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000). Once the moving party shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, the nonmoving party “must come forward with specific facts showing a genuine factual issue for trial.” Harris ex rel. Harris v. Pontotoc Cty. Sch. Dist., 635 F.3d 685, 690 (5th Cir. 2011). “[A] party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or ‘only a scintilla of evidence.'” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)). However, “[s]ummary judgment is [] improper where the court merely believes it unlikely that the non-moving party will prevail at trial.” U.S v. Miss. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 309 F.Supp.2d 837, 840 (S.D.Miss. 2004) (citing Nat'l Screen Serv. Corp. v. Poster Exch., Inc., 305 F.2d 647, 651 (5th Cir. 1962)).

         Discussion

         The Court, as in many of its prior orders in this action, begins its analysis with the choice-of-law clause contained in the Allstate policies, which provide that “any and all claims or disputes in any way related to this policy shall be governed by the laws of Georgia.”[1] In its previous orders, the Court has conducted a choice-of-law ...


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