Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. Dish Network Service, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

August 20, 2019

STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY
v.
DISH NETWORK SERVICE, LLC AND SATELLITE COUNTRY, INC.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on two motions. The first is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 85) filed by Defendants, Satellite Country, Inc. (“Satellite Country”), Foremost Signature Insurance Company, and Charles E. Bailey, Jr. (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (“State Farm”) opposes the motion. (Doc. 88.) Defendants have filed a reply. (Doc. 92.) The second motion is State Farm's Motion to Strike (Doc. 87), which is opposed (Doc. 90). The Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, the motion to strike is granted, and the motion for summary judgment is denied without prejudice.

         I. Relevant Background

         This is a fire case. Plaintiff State Farm, as subrogee of its insured, Tamekia Paige, initially filed suit against Dish Network Service, LLC, (“Dish”) and Satellite Country, seeking reimbursement for insurance funds State Farm paid to Paige for a residential fire. (Statement of Uncontested Material Facts in Support of MSJ (“SUMF”) ¶ 1, Doc. 85-2; Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' SUMF (“PRSUMF”) ¶ 1, Doc. 88-1.) State Farm alleged that Dish and/or Satellite Country “caused a power cord to become impinged during installation, compromising the cord's insulation and eventually resulting in the subject fire.” (SUMF ¶ 2; PRSUMF ¶ 2.) State Farm's Amended Complaint alleges that “the fire and resulting damage was caused by the negligence of Satellite Country and/or Charles Bailey for their improper installation of electrical equipment and/or wiring within the Paige residence. Specifically, Satellite Country and/or Charles Bailey caused a power cord to become impinged during installation, compromising the cord's insulation and eventually resulting in the subject fire.” (SUMF ¶ 3; PRSUMF ¶ 3.) According to the Amended Complaint, “Dish Network . . . subcontracted with Satellite Country to perform the installation of the television electrical equipment/wiring within the Paige residence, ” and “Satellite Country subcontracted with Charles Bailey to perform the installation of the television electrical equipment/wiring within the Paige residence.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5, Doc. 34.)

         Defendants now move for summary judgment on two main grounds. First, Defendants argue that State Farm cannot prove that Bailey caused the fire. Second, and critical here, Defendants assert that State Farm's claims are barred because Paige signed the DISH Network Service, L.L.C., Service Agreement (the “Service Agreement”), which purportedly released Dish Network, its affiliates, and its subcontractors from any liability from installing any equipment. Defendants maintain that State Farm has no greater rights than its insured, who waived her rights against subcontractors like them. Further, since the waiver did not cover physical injury, it is enforceable. For all these reasons, State Farm cannot recover from Defendants.

         State Farm responds that (1) there are questions of fact as to whether Bailey negligently installed the cable equipment and thus caused the fire; and (2) a question of fact exists regarding the waiver. As to the second, State Farm contends that the contract is ambiguous, both in the provision at issue and in related provisions. State Farm also asserts in its PRSUMF that Defendants failed to establish that Paige signed the Service Agreement at issue.

         In reply, Defendants dispute State Farm's efforts to create questions of fact on the cause of the fire. Further, Defendants urge that the Service Agreement is valid and enforceable.

         State Farm also moves to strike the Service Agreement because it's not authenticated and is inadmissible. In response, Defendants contend that, at the summary judgment stage, parties now only need to submit evidence capable of being presented in an admissible form at trial. Thus, the Service Agreement is proper evidence.

         II. Relevant Standard

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if 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). If the mover bears his burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of fact, “its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' ” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The non-mover's burden is not satisfied by “conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a ‘scintilla' of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.' ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. Further:

In resolving the motion, the court may not undertake to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes; so long as the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the court must deny the motion.

International Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         “[I]f the movant bears the burden of proof on an issue, either because he is the plaintiff or as a defendant he is asserting an affirmative defense, he must establish beyond peradventure [(that is, beyond doubt)] all of the essential elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in his favor.” Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Cir. 1986); peradventure, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (2019), available at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peradventure. Phrased another way, “[w]here the summary judgment movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the summary judgment evidence must affirmatively establish the movant's entitlement to prevail as a matter of law.” Universal Sav. Ass'n v. McConnell, 14 F.3d 52, 1993 WL 560271, at *2 (5th Cir. Dec. 29, 1993) (unreported).

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.