United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR
C. YARBROUGH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's
Motion For Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Bad Faith And
Violations Of The Unfair Claims Practices Act, filed July 11,
2018. Doc. 8. Defendant Loya Insurance Company filed a
response in opposition on August 8, 2018. Doc. 17. Plaintiff
filed a reply on September 11, 2018. Doc. 28. The Court
orders that the Motion be denied for the reasons explained
filed this suit on May 17, 2018 in state court. Doc. 1-1
(“Compl.”). On June 25, 2018, Defendant removed
the case to federal court. Doc. 1. In its Notice of Removal,
Defendant alleged the existence of subject-matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id. at 2.
Plaintiff did not move to remand, and the Court finds that
the allegations in the Notice of Removal are sufficient to
establish this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction.
Complaint, Plaintiff contends that she was in a motor vehicle
accident on October 3, 2016. Compl. ¶ 8. The accident
was the fault of the other driver, who fled the scene. Compl.
¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiff made a claim for Uninsured
Insurance Benefits with her auto insurance company, Defendant
Loya. Compl. ¶ 11. Defendant informed Plaintiff on
November 1, 2016 that there was no coverage for the accident
because it was outside of the policy period. Compl. ¶
16. Defendant took a recorded statement from Plaintiff but
lost it. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19. Plaintiff was forced to
file suit against Defendant in state court in February 22,
2017. Compl. ¶ 20. On January 25, 2018, the jury
rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff against Defendant in
the amount of $23, 742.82. Compl. ¶¶ 45-46.
Defendant continued to delay paying the claim even after the
verdict. Compl. ¶ 51. The failure to pay caused
Plaintiff financial hardship. Compl. ¶ 32. The Complaint
brings claims for Breach of Contract, Insurance Bad Faith,
Unfair Insurance Claim Practices, and Unfair Trade Practices.
Doc. 1-1 at 5-9.
11, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment. Doc. 8. Defendant opposed it, arguing in
part that it needed further discovery in order to fully
respond to the motion. Docs. 17 & 17-5. Meanwhile, the
Court set scheduling deadlines and the parties have been
conducting discovery. On November 16, 2018, Defendant filed a
motion for a protective order, seeking to prohibit discovery
of Defendant's employees' conduct and communications
during the underlying lawsuit, and to shield the production
of materials related to a presentation on bad faith by
current defense counsel to Defendant's adjusters. Doc.
37. The Court granted the motion in part. It found that
“litigation conduct by Loya adjusters and employees
during the underlying litigation is not relevant to whether
Loya acted in bad faith by failing to pay Plaintiff's
claim” and such evidence is therefore excluded from the
scope of discovery. Doc. 53 at 5. It also found the requested
material to be protected by attorney-client privilege and,
after in camera review, ordered that the
presentation on bad faith need not be disclosed. Doc. 53 at
6-9 & Doc. 56.
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
issue in Plaintiffs Motion are two auto insurance policies
Plaintiff purchased from Defendant:
. Policy No. 62-604581180, effective from
August 11, 2016 to February 11, 2016. See Doc. 8 at
2 ¶¶ 1-2 and Doc. 17 at 2 ¶¶ 1-2 (more or
less agreeing on the existence of this policy). This policy
will be referred to as “the 2016 Policy.”
. Policy No. 62-385323290, effective from
April 2, 2015 to October 2, 2015 but canceled on June 2,
2015. See Doc. 17-2. This policy will be referred to
as “the 2015 Policy.”
parties agree that, on October 3, 2016, Plaintiff was in a
motor vehicle collision involving an unknown driver who fled
the scene, and Plaintiffs property was damaged as a result.
Doc. 8 at 2 ¶¶ 4-5; Doc. 17 at 2 ¶¶ 4-5.
Plaintiff made an Uninsured Motorist Insurance
(“UMI”) claim under her auto insurance and
reported the claim to her insurer. Doc. 8 at 3 ¶ 6; Doc.
17 at 3 ¶ 6.
here, the parties' stories differ slightly. Plaintiff
asserts that Defendant denied the claim on the basis that
“the damages claimed did not happen within the policy
period.” Doc. 8 at 3 ¶ 7. Plaintiff hired an
attorney and filed suit, but Defendant continued to deny the
claim as being outside the coverage period. Id. at 3
¶¶ 8-9. Defendant attended a mediation and made
settlement offers. Id. at 3 ¶ 9. The case went
to trial and the jury found Plaintiff 0% at fault and awarded
$23, 742.82 in damages on January 25, 2018. Id. at 3
¶¶ 11-13. Defendant did not pay the claim until
June 29, 2018, despite multiple requests for payment from
Plaintiff. Id. at 4 ¶¶ 16-19.
other hand, Defendant maintains that Plaintiff first opened a
claim under the 2016 Policy (the “2016 Policy
Claim”). Doc. 17 at 5 ¶ 1. Defendant informed
Plaintiff she had UMI coverage on her policy. Id. at
6 ¶ 5. Defendant never denied the 2016 Policy Claim.
Id. at 6 ¶ 4. Defendant was in communication
with Plaintiff about the 2016 Policy Claim throughout
mediation and trial. Id. at 7-8 ¶¶ 14, 17.
Defendant asserts that on November 1, 2016, for reasons
unknown, Plaintiff opened a second claim for the car accident
under the 2015 Policy (the “2015 Policy Claim”).
Id. at 6 ¶ 6. Because the 2015 Policy did not
cover the 2016 accident, Defendant denied the 2015 Policy
Claim. Id. at 7 ¶¶ 9-10. After the verdict
in Plaintiff's favor was rendered, Defendant delayed
payment due to advice of counsel pending the resolution of
disputed issues regarding costs, pre- and post-judgment
interest and a lien from First Recovery Group. Id.
at 8 ¶ 18. Defendant disputes that Plaintiff made
multiple requests for payment between the date of the verdict
and the date of payment. Id. at 4 ¶ 16.
on Plaintiff's version of events, she filed the present
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on liability.