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McClure v. Country Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 1, 2017

Benjamin McClure, Plaintiff,
v.
Country Life Insurance Company, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Benjamin McClure purchased a disability insurance policy from Defendant Country Life Insurance Company (“Country Life”) in 1995. In January 2013, McClure submitted a claim for benefits after suffering a traumatic brain injury. McClure alleges that Country Life and Defendant CC Services, Inc. (“CCS”), an affiliated company providing various services to Country Life, breached the insurance contract and administered his claim in bad faith.

         At issue is CCS’s motion for summary judgment, which is fully briefed. (Docs. 201, 231, 262.) CCS argues that it cannot be liable for breach of contract or bad faith claim administration as a matter of law because it is not a party to the insurance contract and is not a partner, principal, or agent of County Life. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.[1]

         I. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, viewing those facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Facts are material if they might affect the outcome of the case under governing law, and a dispute over those facts is genuine “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 (1986). Summary judgment may also be entered “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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         II. Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56.1

         Preliminarily, CCS objects to numerous paragraphs in McClure’s controverting statement of facts on grounds that they violate Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56.1. This District’s Local Rules of Practice impose specific requirements on the form and content of summary judgment motions. As relevant here, “[a]ny party filing a motion for summary judgment must file a statement, separate from the motion and memorandum of law, setting forth each material fact on which the party relies in support of the motion.” LRCiv 56.1(a). Each of these facts “must refer to a specific admissible portion of the record where the fact finds support (for example, affidavit, deposition, discovery response, etc.).” Id. Likewise:

Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment must file a statement, separate from that party’s memorandum of law, setting forth: (1) for each paragraph of the moving party’s separate statement of facts, a correspondingly numbered paragraph indicating whether the party disputes the statement of fact set forth in that paragraph and a reference to the specific admissible portion of the record supporting the party’s position if the fact is disputed; and (2) any additional facts that establish a genuine issue of material fact or otherwise preclude judgment in favor of the moving party. Each additional fact must be set forth in a separately numbered paragraph and must refer to a specific admissible portion of the record where the fact finds support.

LRCiv 56.1(b).

         The rule distinguishes between a separate statement of facts and a memorandum of law because the two documents serve different purposes. The court should be able to glean which facts, if any, are genuinely disputed by reviewing the parties’ separate and controverting statements of facts. Working from that baseline of facts, the court then looks to the parties’ memoranda of law to determine whether any genuinely disputed matters are material under governing law, or whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Thus, factual disputes should be aired in the parties’ separate statements, while legal disputes should be addressed in their memoranda of law. The court may deem a movant’s separate statement of facts to be true if the non-moving party does not comply with these rules. See Szaley v. Pima Cty., 371 Fed. App’x, 734, 735 (9th Cir. 2010).

         CCS correctly notes that many paragraphs in McClure’s controverting statement of facts do not comply with Rule 56.1(b) because they contain legal arguments over the significance or effect of facts, rather than disputes over the factual matter itself. (Doc. 262 at 3-4; Doc. 232 ¶¶ 2, 16-19, 21.)

The Rule requires the controverting party to provide a specific record reference supporting the party’s position if a fact is disputed; it does not permit explanation and argument supporting the party’s position to be included in the response to the moving party’s statement of facts. Argument may be made in the response or reply brief on the motion for summary judgment, but within the page limits.

Pruett v. Arizona, 606 F. Supp. 2d 1065, 1075 (D. Ariz. 2009). CCS’s objections are well-taken and, for purposes of this order, the Court “will disregard each of those paragraphs except for the word ‘controverted’ and the references to the record.” Id.

         CCS also objects to several paragraphs that include additional facts “for completeness,” instead of listing these facts as separate statements as required under Rule 56.1(b)(2). (Doc. 262 at 3-4; Doc. 232 ¶¶ 9-11, 15, 20.) Although the Court agrees that these paragraphs do not strictly adhere to the Rule 56.1(b), the Court nonetheless will consider the facts (but not ...


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