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Mears v. Jones

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

August 27, 2019

GEORGE MEARS PLAINTIFF
v.
LANCE FAGAN JONES DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          This Court and the Court of Appeals have explained the background of this case. See Mears v. Jones, 2017 WL 8786925, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Nov. 30, 2017); Mears v. Jones, 756 Fed.Appx. 404, 406-08 (5th Cir. 2018). Defendant filed four Motions in Limine [234, 236, 238, 240], and they are ripe for review.

         A. Plaintiff's Remaining Claims

         Before the Court addresses Defendant's motions, it must clarify the nature of Plaintiff's remaining claims and the applicable measure of damages, and it must determine the applicability of Mississippi's valued policy statute.

         First, the Fifth Circuit described Plaintiff's negligence claim against Defendant: “Mears alleged that Jones was negligent in advising him on what insurance he could and should purchase and in finding insurance for him.” Mears, 756 Fed.Appx. at 408. Later in its opinion, the Court of Appeals provided more detail:

Although Mears's initial complaint alleged several potential acts of negligence on the part of Jones, Mears focuses his appeal on Jones's failure to advise him as to other available insurance options. Mears argues that Mississippi law imposed on Jones a duty to advise him of available insurance. According to Mears, Jones breached this duty by advising him that no other insurer would insure his house past $200, 000 . . ., when in fact other insurers would do so.

Id. at 409. Therefore, Plaintiff claims that Defendant negligently advised him as to what insurance he could and should purchase. See, e.g. Jeffrey Jackson, Mississippi Insurance Law & Practice § 5:12 (2019) (describing “bad advice” claims against insurance agents); Mladineo v. Schmidt, 52 So.3d 1154, 1163 (Miss. 2010) (holding that an insurance agent must exercise reasonable care if he offers advice to an insured).

         Next, the Court of Appeals remanded Plaintiff's negligent misrepresentation claim. Mears, 756 Fed.Appx. at 412. The Court described the claim: “Mears also argues that Jones is liable for negligent misrepresentation for his alleged statement that only MRPIUA would insure the property.” Id. at 410. Therefore, Plaintiff claims that Defendant negligently misrepresented that Plaintiff could only obtain coverage from MRPIUA.[1]

         B. Plaintiff's Measure of Damages

         As for damages, the Mississippi Supreme Court has endorsed the following measure of damages in negligence actions against insurance agents:

As to the measure of liability of an insurance agent . . . for his failure to procure insurance, where a loss is suffered by the intending insured, the courts have generally held that the damages should be equal to the amount that would have been due under the policy, provided it had been obtained. . . . If the policy procured is defective because of the terms and coverage provided therein, the measure of damages has been held to be the amount for which the insurer would have been liable had proper insurance been effected.

Simpson v. M-P Enterprises, Inc., 252 So.2d 202, 207 (Miss. 1971). Therefore, the measure of damages for Plaintiff's negligence claims is the amount that would have been due if Defendant had obtained the proper policy.

         C. The Valued Policy Statute

         Finally, the parties disagree as to the effect of Mississippi's “Valued Policy Law” in ...


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