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Pinewood Townhome Association, Inc. v. Auto Owners Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 13, 2017

THE PINEWOOD TOWNHOME ASSOCIATION, INC, a nonprofit Colorado corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTO OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, a Michigan Insurance Company, Defendant.

          AMENDED ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. # 51)

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Auto Owners Insurance Company's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 51.) Defendant argues for the dismissal of Plaintiff Pinewood Townhome Association's First and Second Claims for Relief because, Defendant contends, they are barred by applicable statute of limitations periods. (Id. at 2.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a property damage claim, initiated by Plaintiff, under an insurance contract (Insurance Policy) issued by Defendant. (Doc. # 5 at ¶ 1.) The Insurance Policy, referred to by Plaintiff as a “Business Owner's Policy, ” covered Plaintiff's commercial buildings located in Aurora, Colorado, effective June 1, 2012. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 3; Doc. # 51-1.) On June 6, 2012, a “hail/wind” storm caused damaged to those building/s.[1] (Doc. # 5 at ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff submitted a claim to Defendant for damages arising from the storm, and Defendants appraised the property and agreed to pay on the claim. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 13.)

         Between fall of 2012 and January 2013, Plaintiff submitted two “supplements for additional work” regarding “damage [Defendants] missed.” (Id. at ¶ 14.) In June 2014, Plaintiff submitted a “final supplement” requesting over $860, 000 for damages to Plaintiff's property. (Id. at ¶ 15; Doc. 7, at ¶ 15.) Plaintiff argues that much of its claimed losses remain unpaid, giving rise to the present suit.

         Defendant contends that it submitted payments to Plaintiffs on four separate occasions between fall of 2012 and July 2015, totaling $2, 623, 678.82. As pertinent here, Defendant adds that any other payment requests made by Plaintiff are not covered by the Insurance Policy and remain unpaid for that, and other, reasons.

         On June 5, 2014, Plaintiff initiated this suit, arguing primarily that money remains owing to Plaintiff for loss sustained to the property and covered by the Insurance Contract. Plaintiff specifically raises four claims for relief: (1) breach of contract, (2) unreasonable delay and denial of payment of covered benefits under Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 10-3-1115 and 10-3-1116; (3) bad faith breach of the insurance contract; and (4) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

         Defendant requests that this Court grant summary judgment on Plaintiff's first two claims for relief.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In applying this standard, the Court views the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). A fact is material if, under the applicable substantive law, it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim. Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence on each side so that a rational trier of fact could resolve the issue either way. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

         On issues of statutory interpretation, the Court interprets a statute as a whole, giving the words in the statute their plain and ordinary meanings, attempting to give effect to the legislature's intent. Platt v. Aspenwood Condo. Ass'n, 214 P.3d 1060, 1063 (Colo.App. 2009). The Court also looks at the context in which a statutory term appears, and the meaning of a word may be ascertained by reference to the meaning of words associated with it. Id.

         For diversity jurisdiction cases, the court applies the substantive law of the forum state. Barrett v. Tallon, 30 F.3d 1296, 1300 (10th Cir. 1994). In this case, the forum state is Colorado.

         III. BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIM

         The first question before this Court is rather simple-whether a two- or three-year statute of limitations applies to Plaintiff's First Claim for Relief: “Breach of Contract.” If a two-year limitations period applies, Plaintiff's breach of contract claim is barred and summary judgment is warranted. If a three-year period applies, the claim is timely and summary judgment will be denied. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-80-101(1)(a) states that all contract actions “shall be commenced within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter.” However, parties may shorten the length of time by which a party may file suit, unless it is prohibited by statute. Grant Family Farms, Inc. v. Colo. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 155 P.3d 537, 538 (Colo.App. 2006). The Insurance Policy in this case did so shorten the length of time by which Plaintiff could file suit by providing that any suit ...


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