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Shepherd v. Geovera Specialty Insurance Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 5, 2015

DERRICK SHEPHERD
v.
GEOVERA SPECIALTY INSURANCE SERVICES, INC. SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court are a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant GeoVera Specialty Insurance Company ("GeoVera") (Doc. 27) and a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Derrick Shepherd ("Shepherd") (Doc. 30). For the following reasons, both Motions are DENIED.

BACKGROUND

When Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Southeast Louisiana on August 28, 2012, Shepherd had a homeowner's insurance policy with GeoVera insuring his property in Gretna, Louisiana. Shepherd filed a proof of loss claiming his home was substantially damaged as a result of the hurricane. Shepherd filed suit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court seeking insurance proceeds under his homeowner's policy. GeoVera removed the case to this Court on April 15, 2014.

GeoVera filed a motion for summary judgment on July 18, 2014 asserting that Shepherd breached the insurance contract by failing to cooperate in the claim investigation. The Court denied the Motion, citing numerous disputes of material fact that precluded summary judgment at that time. On November 18, 2014, GeoVera filed a motion for summary judgment on lack of coverage or rescission of contract of insurance. That same day, Shepherd filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of bad faith. These are the Motions presently before the Court.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."[1] A genuine issue of fact exists only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."[2]

In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.[3] "If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial."[4] Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case."[5] "In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the non-movant on all issues as to which the non-movant would bear the burden of proof at trial."[6] "We do not... in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts."[7] Additionally, "[t]he mere argued existence of a factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion."[8]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

GeoVera's Motion for Summary Judgment

GeoVera moves the Court to rescind the insurance contract between Shepherd and GeoVera and order GeoVera to refund any premiums paid for coverage of the policy. GeoVera contends that the insurance policy is void and unenforceable due to material misrepresentations made by Shepherd or his agent when filling out the insurance application. GeoVera further contends that it would not have placed the policy had the application been filled out truthfully.

Specifically, GeoVera argues that the policy precludes coverage for any insured in the event of concealment or fraud in relation to placement of the insurance policy or for any claims thereafter. Under "Conditions, " the policy states:

We provide coverage to no "insureds" under this policy if, whether before or after a ...

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