United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
NATURE OF MOTION AND RELIEF SOUGHT
the court are Plaintiff's “Motion for Summary
Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 12), Defendant's
“Opposition to Plaintiff State Farm Fire and Casualty
Company's Motion for Summary Judgment” (Rec. Doc.
17) and Plaintiff's “Reply to Opposition for
Summary Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 20). For the reasons set
forth below, IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Robert and Bolaji Akingbola were involved in an automobile
accident on February 20, 2015 (Rec. Doc. 1). Joseph Robert
initiated a lawsuit against Bolaji and State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company in Louisiana civil court for damages related
to the car accident (Rec. Doc. 1). Plaintiff, State Farm Fire
and Casualty Company brought a declaratory judgment action
against Defendant Joseph Robert and contends that it has no
liability to the Defendant in connection with any claims
asserted under a personal liability umbrella policy issued to
Dr. Olugbenga Akingbola, Bolaji's father. State Farm
issued a personal liability umbrella policy to Dr. Akingbola,
residing at 14 Spy Glass Court, New Orleans, for a policy
period that covered August 24, 2014 to August 24, 2015 (Rec.
Doc. 12-4). In July of 2014 Bolaji moved out of his family
residence on Spy Glass Court to an apartment on 1956 South
Carrollton avenue (Rec. Doc. 12-4). Bolaji lived on South
Carrollton at the time of the February 20, 2015 car accident
(Rec. Doc. 12-4).
FACTUAL AND LEGAL FINDINGS
judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions,
interrogatory answers, and admissions, together with any
affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; see also
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). A
genuine issue exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Although
the Court must consider the evidence with all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, the nonmovant must produce specific facts to
demonstrate that a genuine issue exists for trial. Webb
v. Cardiothoracic Surgery Assocs. of N. Texas, 139 F.3d
532, 536 (5th Cir. 1998).
moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The movant must point to
“portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
affidavits' which it believes demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56). If and when the movant carries this burden,
the nonmovant must then go beyond the pleadings and use
affidavits, depositions, interrogatory responses, admissions,
or other evidence to establish a genuine issue.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant
may merely point to an absence of evidence, thus shifting to
the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent
summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material
fact warranting trial. . . . Only when ‘there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury
to return a verdict for that party' is a full trial on
the merits warranted.” Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck and
Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, conclusory rebuttals of the pleadings
are insufficient to avoid summary judgment. Travelers
Ins. Co. v. Liljeberg Enter., Inc., 7 F.3d 1203, 1207
(5th Cir. 1993).
courts apply the substantive law of the forum state, as
interpreted by the state's highest court, in diversity
cases. Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide
Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 399 (5th Cir.
2008). Plaintiff is a citizen of Illinois and Defendant is a
Citizen of Louisiana and Louisiana is the forum state of the
current controversy (Rec. Doc. 1). Therefore Louisiana law
governs this insurance coverage dispute. The Louisiana
Supreme Court has summarized how insurance policies should be
interpreted under state law and explains, “[a]n
insurance policy is a contract between the parties. It should
be construed by using the general rules for the
interpretation of contracts as set out in the Civil Code. The
role of the judiciary in interpreting insurance contracts is
to ascertain the common intent of the parties to the
contract. A court is to determine the intent of the parties
to an insurance contract in accordance with the general,
ordinary, plain and popular meaning of the words used in the
policy, unless the words have acquired a technical meaning.
An insurance policy should not be interpreted in an
unreasonable manner, such as to enlarge coverage beyond what
is reasonably contemplated by the terms of the policy.
Additionally, absent a conflict with statutory provisions or
public policy, insurers, like other individuals, are entitled
to limit their liability and to impose and to enforce
reasonable conditions upon the policy obligations they
contractually assume.” Carbon v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 719 So.2d 437, 439-440 (La. 1998) (internal
citations and quotations omitted).
instant matter this Court finds that State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company is entitled to limiting its policy
obligations in a way that excludes Bolaji. Under Dr.
Akingbola's State Farm insurance policy the term insured
is defined as “you and your relatives whose primary
residence is your household.” (Rec. Doc. 12-4). It is
undisputed based on the signed affidavits of both Dr.
Akingbola and his son, Bolaji, that Dr. Akingbola resided at
14 Spy Glass Court and his son resided and paid rent for an
apartment at 1956 South Carrollton avenue at the time of the
accident (Rec. Doc. 12-4). Defendant in his opposition argues
that there is a factual dispute regarding residency because
Bolaji's driver's license lists his father's
address, Bolaji still has a key to his father's house,
some of Bolaji's books are still in his childhood room
and Bolaji visits his father's house on holidays (Rec.
when the Court evaluates “whether a person is or is not
a resident of a household is a question of law as well as a
question of fact that is to be determined from the facts of
each case. The question is largely one of intention. The
intention of a person to be a resident of a particular place
is determined by his expressions at times not suspicious, and
his testimony, when called on, considered in light of his
conduct and circumstances of life.” Miley v.
Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Ins. Co., 599 So.2d 791,
798 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1992). None of these facts would convince
a jury that Bolaji had the intention of residing at his
father's house. Even when weighing the facts in favor of
the Defendant, none of these facts indicate that Bolaji
considered 14 Spy Glass Court to be his residence or that he
had the intention of making it his permanent residence in the
Akingbola and Bolaji have both signed affidavits stating that
Bolaji was not a resident of Dr. Akingbola's household on
the date of the accident and that Bolaji had no intention of
moving home to become a resident of the household (Rec. Doc.
12-4). This is further confirmed by the fact that a few
months after the accident Bolaji moved into another apartment
at 1601 Burdette Street at not back to his father's house
(Rec. Doc. 12-4). This Court finds that the Plaintiff is
entitled to summary judgment because Bolaji was not ...