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Angelin v. Insurance Company of State of Pennsylvania

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 26, 2017

RAYMOND ANGELIN
v.
INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA

         SECTION “R” (3)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SARAH S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Raymond Angelin and defendant The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (ICSP). Because the Court finds that Angelin's employer executed a valid waiver of uninsured motorist coverage, ICSP's motion is granted and Angelin's motion is denied. Accordingly, Angelin's claims are dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Raymond Angelin works for Cross Road Centers Transportation, Inc.[1] As part of his job, Angelin drives Cross Road's 2015 Volvo tractor trailer truck.[2] Cross Road maintained an auto insurance policy with defendant The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (ICSP) for the period of March 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016.[3]

         Angelin alleges that he was injured on August 2, 2015 when an uninsured or underinsured motorist sideswiped the Volvo truck.[4] According to Angelin, he was driving the truck within the course and scope of his work for Cross Road at the time of the accident.[5] Angelin alleges that, under Cross Road's auto insurance policy, ICSP is to liable Angelin for the motorist's negligence.[6] Angelin seeks compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.[7]

         Angelin sued ICSP in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson.[8] ICSP removed to this Court on October 13, 2016.[9] The parties have filed dueling motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether Cross Road's auto insurance policy with ICSP includes uninsured motorist coverage.[10]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is warranted when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact exists, the Court considers “all of the evidence in the record but refrain[s] from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398-99 (5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, but “unsupported allegations or affidavits setting forth ‘ultimate or conclusory facts and conclusions of law' are insufficient to either support or defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Galindo v. Precision Am. Corp., 754 F.2d 1212, 1216 (5th Cir. 1985); see also Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. “No genuine dispute of fact exists if the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” EEOC v. Simbaki, Ltd., 767 F.3d 475, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party “must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.” Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1264-65 (5th Cir. 1991). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by either countering with evidence sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact, or “showing that the moving party's evidence is so sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in favor of the moving party.” Id. at 1265.

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by merely pointing out that the evidence in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue exists. See Id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest upon the pleadings, but must identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for trial. See, e.g., id.; Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (“Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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.” (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The parties' dispute is a narrow one. Both sides agree that Cross Roads, through its legal representative Robert Gadola, executed an “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Form.”[11] Gadola initialed in the space next to the sentence “I do not want UMBI coverage” and signed and dated the bottom of the page.[12] Despite this clear evidence of intent to waive uninsured motorist coverage, Angelin argues that the waiver is ineffective because the waiver form does not state the relevant policy number.

         Under Louisiana Law, every automobile liability policy offers implicit coverage for uninsured motorists, even if the contract does not explicitly address the issue. Duncan v. U.S.A.A. Ins. Co., 950 So.2d 544, 547 (La. 2006). A motorist may waive uninsured motorist coverage, but the waiver must be “clear and unmistakable” and “the insurer ...


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