United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING IN PART AND HOLDING IN
ABEYANCE IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
AND HOLDING IN ABEYANCE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO BIFURCATE
before the Court are the following motions filed by Defendant
Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company: a
Daubert motion to strike expert designation and
testimony of Plaintiff Jamie Whitfield's experts Kevin
Senter and Johnny Harber ; a motion for summary judgment
or, in the alternative, for partial summary judgment ;
and a motion to bifurcate proceedings . Upon due
consideration, the Court finds that the motion for summary
judgment  must be granted in part and held in abeyance in
part, and the motion to bifurcate proceedings  must be
held in abeyance. The Daubert motion to strike
Plaintiffs experts shall be scheduled for an appropriate
Factual and Procedural Background
Jamie Whitfield ("Plaintiff) purchased homeowner's
insurance policy number 995 646 873 from Defendant Allstate
Vehicle and Property Insurance Company ("Allstate")
to insure his home in Iuka, Mississippi; the replacement cost
value, as stated in the subject policy, is $355, 563.00.
Pl.'s Compl.  ¶¶ 4-5; Allstate's Answer
& Aff. Defenses  ¶¶ 4-5; Subj. Policy [8-1]
at 5. On or about December 19, 2014, Plaintiff suffered a
fire loss at his home. Pl.'s Compl.  ¶ 4;
Allstate's Answer & Aff. Defenses  ¶ 4.
Plaintiff filed an insurance claim, contending that the fire
rendered his home a total loss and that he was entitled to
the replacement cost value stated in the subject policy,
$355, 563.00. Allstate paid $132, 612.49 on the claim. On
March 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed this wrongful and bad faith
denial of insurance coverage case against Allstate based on
diversity jurisdiction. On May 17, 2016, Allstate filed its
answer and affirmative defenses , The parties engaged in
extensive discovery. Subsequently, on April 18, 2017,
Allstate filed the present motion to strike expert
designation and testimony of Plaintiff s experts Kevin Senter
and Johnny Harber ; motion for summary judgment or, in
the alternative, for partial summary judgment ; and
motion to bifurcate proceedings . Plaintiff filed
responses, and Allstate filed replies in support of the three
case sub judice, the parties dispute the extent of
the fire loss to Plaintiffs home, as well as whether Allstate
insured the property appropriately or in excess of fair
market value in violation of Mississippi law.
alleges that his home was "totally destroyed with no
usable remnant that would have been reasonable or feasible to
repair and reconstruct." Pl.'s Compl.  ¶ 6.
Plaintiff further alleges that "Allstate has only made
partial payments in the sum of $132, 612.49 to [Plaintiff] or
less than 40% of the [subject] coverage." Id.
Plaintiff avers that Allstate, "acting with actual
malice or gross negligence, has wrongfully and in bad faith
denied full coverage and full payment for the fire loss claim
without a reasonable basis . . . ." Id.
Plaintiff seeks contractual damages "in the amount of at
leas[t] $225, 950.00, representing the difference between
replacement cost coverage in the [subject] policy and prior
partial payments, " as well as "punitive damages as
a result of [Allstate's] bad faith denial of the claim
for full benefit of the [subject] policy." Id.
argues that following its investigation into the fire and
damage, Allstate determined that the fire was incendiary and
that Plaintiffs home was repairable. Allstate maintains that
it has paid all amounts due and payable under the subject
policy. Allstate further maintains that its estimated repair
cost was $120, 266.72; that Allstate tendered a check in that
amount to Plaintiff; and that Plaintiff accepted and cashed
the check. Allstate's Mem. Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 
¶¶ 5-6. Allstate argues that Plaintiff subsequently
submitted additional invoices for "building material on
site at the time of the fire, but not yet installed" to
include an additional $12, 345.77, and that Allstate issued a
check to Plaintiff in the amount requested. Id.
¶ 8. Allstate denied Plaintiffs insurance claim for the
total replacement value of the home, but advised Plaintiff
that if he decided to rebuild his home he could be entitled
to make an additional claim for the "recoverable
depreciation amount of $29, 547.05." Id.
Allstate maintains it has paid Plaintiff a total of $132,
612.49 under Coverage A (dwelling coverage); $40, 145.26
under Coverage B (personal property coverage); and $5, 000.00
in advance payments. Id. ¶ 9. Allstate further
maintains that it tendered $4, 353.72 to Plaintiff based on
an estimate of mold remediation from ServPro of Tupelo.
Id. ¶ 10.
Summary Judgment Standard
Court grants summary judgment "if the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a);
Celotex Corp. v. Catreit, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Weaver v. CCA Indus.,
Inc., 529 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2008). The rule
"mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate
time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails
to make a sufficient showing 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 Corp., 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
party moving for summary judgment bears the initial
responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for its
motion and identifying those portions of the record it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of
material fact. See Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Under
Rule 56(a), the burden then shifts to the nonmovant to
"go beyond the pleadings and by . . . 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. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Littlefield v.
Forney Indep. Sch. Dist, 268 F.3d 275, 282 (5th Cir.
2001); Willis v. Roche Biomedical Labs., Inc., 61
F.3d 313, 315 (5th Cir. 1995). Where, as here, the parties
dispute the facts, the Court must view the facts and draw
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378,
127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). "However, a nonmovant may not overcome the
summary judgment standard with conclusional allegations,
unsupported assertions, or presentation of only a scintilla
of evidence." McClure v. Boles, 490 F.App'x
666, 667 (5th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Hathaway v.
Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir. 2007)).
Analysis and Discussion
argues in its motion for summary judgment or, in the
alternative, partial summary judgment  that summary
judgment is appropriate on all claims asserted in the case
sub judice because the subject loss is repairable,
and alternatively, that summary judgment is appropriate on
Plaintiffs claims for bad faith, punitive damages, and
stated above, Allstate has also filed a motion exclude
Plaintiffs expert witnesses  who would testify in support
of Plaintiffs position in this case. However, the Court finds
that Allstate's summary judgment motion can be resolved
without a ruling on the Daubert motion.
Contractual Damages Claim
seeks contractual damages for the total loss of his home; he
seeks the difference unpaid between the total value of his
home and the amount paid by Allstate on his insurance claim.
Allstate argues that Plaintiff has been paid the appropriate
amount under the subject policy, because his home was not a
total loss, but was repairable. Whether Plaintiffs claim for
contractual damages survives summary judgment is dependent on
whether a genuine ...