United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY’S  MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant Allstate Insurance Company’s
Motion  for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the
Alternative, for Partial Summary Judgment. This Motion is
fully briefed. After due consideration of the Motion , the
record, and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that
the Motion  should be granted to the extent it seeks
judgment on the pleadings, and Plaintiff’s claims
against Allstate should be dismissed with prejudice.
February 21, 2016, Plaintiff Linsey Ridgdell
(“Plaintiff” or “Ridgdell”) was a
passenger in a vehicle driven by her cousin, Summer Davis
(“Davis”), in George County, Mississippi, when a
second vehicle collided with Davis’s vehicle.
See Compl.  at ¶¶ 3, 19. Davis died in
the collision, and Plaintiff suffered significant physical
injuries, including a broken sternum, two broken ribs, and a
shoulder injury. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20.
Plaintiff incurred medical expenses totaling approximately
$15, 000.00. Id. at ¶ 21. According to the
Complaint, the collision was caused by the second
vehicle’s driver (the “at-fault driver”),
who was under the influence of alcohol at the time. See
Id . at ¶¶ 3-4.
at-fault driver was insured by Shelter Mutual Insurance
Company under a policy with $25, 000.00 in liability limits.
Id. at ¶ 4. At the time of the incident,
Plaintiff was covered by a $25, 000.00 underinsured motorist
policy with her own insurer, State Farm, as well as by a
policy issued to other individuals by Defendant Allstate
Insurance Company (“Defendant” or
“Allstate”), which included $50, 000.00 total
underinsured motorist benefits. Id. at ¶ 7.
According to the Complaint, as the primary underinsured
motorist coverage, State Farm’s coverage was set-off by
the at-fault driver’s coverage, leaving only the
Allstate underinsured motorist coverage available to
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 8.
at-fault driver’s insurance company tendered its $25,
000.00 limits, and on July 14, 2016, Plaintiff’s
counsel advised Allstate of the tender and “requested
that Allstate promptly buy out the settlement or consent to
the settlement, pursuant to established procedure in
Mississippi.” Id. at ¶ 8. According to
Plaintiff, on July 25, 2016, Plaintiff’s counsel again
wrote Allstate’s adjuster advising him of the
underlying settlement with the at-fault driver’s
insurance company and “requesting a prompt decision on
consenting to the underlying settlement.” Id
at ¶ 10. On October 6, 2016, Plaintiff’s counsel
wrote another letter to the adjuster advising that counsel
had “written multiple letters and left multiple phone
messages, but Allstate had not responded to the
communications.” Id at ¶ 11.
Plaintiff’s counsel stated that Allstate “had an
obligation to investigate claims with reasonable promptness
and make a prompt and realistic evaluation of the
claim.” Id. Counsel also reminded Allstate
“of its duty to pay claims that are covered, or to
advise the insured of a valid reason why the claim was
denied.” Id. Plaintiff’s counsel wrote
Allstate’s adjuster a final time on October 9, 2016,
requesting it “consent or buy out the underlying
settlement, pursuant to Mississippi law.” Id.
at ¶ 12.
to the Complaint, on January 11, 2017, Allstate made its
first offer of settlement on Plaintiff’s underinsured
motorist claim, offering $8, 500.00. Six days later, on
January 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a separate lawsuit against
Allstate in the Circuit Court of George County, Mississippi
(the “State Court Case”), seeking recovery of
underinsured motorist benefits. B. The State Court
Case In the complaint in the State Court Case (the
“State Court Complaint”), Plaintiff asserted
claims against Allstate for negligence and “willful,
wanton, and/or reckless conduct of the underinsured
motorist.” State Court Compl. [9-1] at p. 2-7.
Plaintiff later sought leave from the state court to amend
her complaint, see State Court Mot. [9-2] at 1-2,
which was granted pursuant to an agreed order entered on
April 30, 2018, see State Court Agreed Order [9-3]
at 1. The first amended complaint was filed in the State
Court Case on May 1, 2018. See State Court First Am.
Compl. [9-4] at 1-7. According to Plaintiff, “the only
thing the First Amended Complaint did was change the label of
the conduct alleged in Count II from ‘willful, wanton
and/or reckless conduct’ to ‘gross negligence
evidencing willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the
safety of others.’” Pl.’s Mem.  at 4.
State Court Case was tried to a jury from April 30, 2018,
until May 1, 2018, and the jury returned a verdict in
Plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $200, 000.00.
See State Court Final J. [9-6] at 1. Considering the
Allstate policy limits, on May 14, 2018, the state court
entered a Final Judgment against Allstate in the amount of
$50, 000.00. Id. at 1-2. C. The Present
Action Following the conclusion of the jury trial,
Plaintiff filed a separate Complaint on October 23, 2018,
against Allstate in the Circuit Court of George County,
Mississippi. Compl. [1-2] at 1. Allstate removed the case to
this Court on November 26, 2018, invoking diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See
Notice of Removal  at 1-4.
present case, Plaintiff claims that “Allstate breached
its duty to conduct a prompt and adequate investigation and
make a reasonable, good faith decision based on that
investigation.” Compl. [1-2] at ¶ 30. According to
the Complaint, Allstate did not have an arguable or
legitimate basis of fact or law to not pay the policy limits
of $50, 000 from the time when it knew it knew [sic]
or should have known the facts of the underlying case
established Linsey’s injuries and damages exceeded the
policy limits All [sic] the way through the time of the jury
verdict in the underlying litigation. Allstate’s
refusal to pay policy limits constitutes bad faith breach of
contract and is and was not a genuine pocket book dispute
“over the value of the Plaintiff’s
Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff alleges that
Allstate acted with malice and/or gross negligence in
disregard of [her] contractual rights in failing to perform a
prompt and adequate investigation and make a reasonable, good
faith decision based on that investigation and in failing to
offer the policy limits prior to the verdict in the
Id. at ¶ 32. Plaintiff seeks an award of
compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 7.
removed the case to this Court on November 26, 2018, invoking
the Court’s diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332. See Notice of Removal  at
1-4. Allstate filed its Answer  the same day and pled the
affirmative defense of res judicata. See Ans.  at
6; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c)(1). D.
Allstate’s Motion On February 22, 2019,
Allstate filed a Motion  for Judgment on the Pleadings, or
in the Alternative, for Partial Summary
Judgment. Allstate argues that Plaintiff’s
claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
See Def.’s Mem.  at 8-12. Allstate
alternatively argues that, even if any of Plaintiff’s