United States District Court, D. Arizona
Willard G. Jeffers, Plaintiff,
Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
JOHN W. SEDWICK, Senior District Judge.
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 31 defendant Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company ("Farm Bureau") moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 against plaintiff Willard G. Jeffers ("Jeffers"). Jeffers opposes at docket 46. Farm Bureau filed a reply at docket 52. Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.
Jeffers' property in Glendale was among the thousands of Phoenix-area properties that were damaged in an October 5, 2010, hail storm. Jeffers reported the damage to Farm Bureau, his property insurance company, and they dispatched an adjuster to investigate. The adjuster, Michael Shearer, inspected the property on either October 18 or October 19 and made notes of the damage he observed. Shearer inspected Jeffers' house, shed, gazebo, detached office, and pigeon loft. Shearer did not immediately enter his notes into Farm Bureau's online database; he waited two to four days to do so.
Shearer's notes reflect that he observed damage to Jeffers' dwelling and pigeon loft but "[n]o other damages to other structures." Shearer then arranged for a representative of KY-KO Roofing to inspect Jeffers' foam roof, who concluded that the roof had to be replaced. Shearer compiled a list of damages and their cost of repair into two "damages worksheets." These worksheets list damage to foam and tile roofs on Jeffers' house, to the fiberglass roof on Jeffers' pigeon loft, and to a wood fence. They also list unspecified "tree removal/cleanup." Although Shearer's notes state that Jeffers agreed with these worksheets and with the claim he prepared,  Jeffers denies that he had any conversations with Shearer about the scope of the damage and repair work that was needed. On October 23, Farm Bureau issued its first payment on Jeffers' claim. It issued another payment on December 23 for recoverable depreciation after repairs were preformed.
In 2011 Jeffers submitted two additional claims to Farm Bureau related to the October 2010 hail storm. In January 2011, a heating and cooling contractor inspected Jeffers' air conditioning units. The contractor concluded that one of the units had extensive hail damage and needed to be replaced, and the other unit had "some hail damage" that "may be able to be combed out." Jeffers submitted a claim to Farm Bureau. On January 8, Farm Bureau paid Jeffers 50 percent of the replacement value of the air conditioner that needed to be replaced (with the other 50 percent payable upon repair) and the full value of repair to the other unit. In March 2011, Jeffers obtained a quote for the instillation of a new roof for his shed due to hail damage. Jeffers submitted the quote to Farm Bureau. Farm Bureau paid Jeffers the full amount.
In September 2012 an independent adjuster, Austin Insurance Services, inspected Jeffers' property. Austin Insurance Services' report concludes that Jeffers' property requires $50, 936.86 in repairs due to hail damage. Jeffers sued Farm Bureau in Arizona court in November 2012, alleging that Farm Bureau breached the insurance contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Farm Bureau removed the case to federal court.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The materiality requirement ensures that "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Ultimately, "summary judgment will not lie if the... evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." However, summary judgment is mandated under Rule 56 "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient 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."
The moving party has the burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, the moving party need not present evidence to show that summary judgment is warranted; it need only point out the lack of any genuine dispute as to material fact. Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth evidence of specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. All evidence presented by the non-movant must be believed for purposes of summary judgment, and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-movant. However, the non-moving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must show that there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute to require a fact-finder to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.
If summary judgment is not appropriate, Rule 56(g) empowers courts to issue partial summary judgment orders that specify facts or legal issues that are without controversy.
A. Breach of ...