United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment.
For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
lawsuit arises from an attempt to collect additional flood
insurance proceeds after catastrophic rains caused flooding
in southeast Louisiana in August 2016.
August 13-15, 2016, heavy rains in southeast Louisiana caused
flooding, which damaged Steve Chatelain's property
located at 29494 West Bates Road in Hammond, Louisiana.
Chatelain had purchased a Standard Flood Insurance Policy
issued directly through the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, under the National Flood Insurance Program, which was
then in effect to insure his Hammond residence. The building had
a liability limit of $250, 000 with a $1, 250 deductible;
contents coverage was limited to $100, 000 with a separate
$1, 250 deductible.
Chatelain notified FEMA of his flood loss, FEMA sent an
independent adjuster for inspection. Working with the
adjuster, Chatelain submitted a proof of loss to FEMA dated
October 28, 2016 in the amount of $75, 898.48. FEMA denied
that proof of loss, but accepted Chatelain's revised
claim for $77, 032.19, which deducted certain above-water
items from his contents estimate and sought additional
replacement cost coverage. By November 2016, FEMA had paid
Chatelain the total amount of $77, 032.19 ($60, 006.45 for
building and $17, 005.74 for contents; both after
deductibles). FEMA explained in a November 28, 2018 letter
that it denied the original proof of loss, but that it
accepted the claim for the revised amount; FEMA also wrote:
“[i]f you do not agree with the final decision reached
on your claim, please refer your [SFIP]...which
states...'If you do sue, you must start the suit within 1
year after the date of written denial of all or part of the
with FEMA's payment, Chatelain, through counsel, wrote to
FEMA on March 30, 2017 claiming that the prior payment
“was deficient in unit cost and scope of
work/damage.” Accompanying the letter, Chatelain
submitted a supplemental proof of loss for $319, 069, along
with his own private appraiser's report. On April 7,
2017, FEMA rejected in writing Chatelain's $319, 069
supplemental proof of loss for insufficient documentation.
Chatelain did not respond. Nor did he submit any additional
material to FEMA.
August 1, 2018, Chatelain sued the Department of Homeland
Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
claiming that FEMA's “building payment was
deficient by more than $150, 000.00.” The defendants
now move for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff's
lawsuit as untimely.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs that summary judgment is
proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any
material fact such that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. 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.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine dispute of
fact exists only "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Court emphasizes that the mere argued existence of a factual
dispute does not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion. See id. Therefore, "[i]f the evidence
is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative,"
summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at 249-50
(citations omitted). Summary judgment is also proper if the
party opposing the motion fails to establish an essential
element of his case. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In this regard, the non-moving
party must do more than simply deny the allegations raised by
the moving party. See Donaghey v. Ocean Drilling &
Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646, 649 (5th Cir. 1992).
Rather, he must come forward with competent evidence, such as
affidavits or depositions, to buttress his claims.
Id. Hearsay evidence and unsworn documents that
cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in
evidence at trial do not qualify as competent opposing
evidence. Martin v. John W. Stone Oil Distrib.,
Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 549 (5th Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(2). "[T]he nonmoving party cannot defeat summary
judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated
assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence."
Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir.
2007)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In
deciding whether a fact issue exists, courts must view the
facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Although the Court must
"resolve factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving
party," it must do so "only where there is an
actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts." Antoine v. First
Student, Inc., 713 F.3d 824, 830 (5th Cir.
2013)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).