United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO RECONSIDER
Y. Wang, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the court on Defendant Metropolitan
Property and Casualty Insurance Company's
(“Defendant” or MetLife”) Motion to
Reconsider Court's Order Granting Partial Summary
Judgment (the “Motion”). [#32]. This civil action
was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge to preside
over fully for all purposes. See [#15]; Fed.R.Civ.P.
73; D.C.COLO.LCivR 72.2. The court concludes that oral
argument will not materially assist in the resolution of this
matter. Accordingly, upon careful review of the Motion and
associated briefing, the applicable case law, and the entire
docket, the court DENIES the Motion.
court discussed the background of this matter in its prior
Memorandum Opinion and Order [#45], and discusses it here
only as it pertains to the instant Motion. The dispute
between Plaintiff Michelle Stoole (“Plaintiff” or
“Ms. Stoole”) and Defendant stems from
Plaintiff's claim for underinsured motorist
(“UIM”) benefits resulting from a traffic
collision between Plaintiff and a non-party, Ms. Ha Vo.
Plaintiff asserted three claims against MetLife for its
conduct in handling her UIM claim: (1) breach of an insurance
contract (“breach of contract”) (“Claim
1”); (2) common law bad faith breach of an insurance
contract (“common law bad faith”) (“Claim
2”); and (3) unreasonable delay and denial of insurance
benefits pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 10-3-1115,
-1116 (“statutory bad faith”) (“Claim
3”). See generally [#3].
March 30, 2018, MetLife moved for summary judgment on all
three of Plaintiff's claims. See [#32]. The
undersigned granted in part and denied in part MetLife's
Motion for Summary Judgment, holding that Defendant was
entitled to summary judgment on Claim 2 but not on Claims 1
and 3. See [#45]. The court set these Claims for a
five-day jury trial to commence on November 5, 2018.
now seeks reconsideration of the court's denial of
summary judgment as to Claim 3, arguing that the court erred
in failing to consider MetLife's arguments that Plaintiff
could not proffer any evidence of unreasonableness sufficient
to survive summary judgment on her statutory bad faith claim.
[#49 at 4-5]. The Motion is fully briefed and is ripe for
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for
a motion for reconsideration. Because MetLife seeks
reconsideration of a non-final order, its Motion “falls
within a court's plenary power to revisit and amend
interlocutory orders as justice requires.” United
Fire & Cas. Co. v. Boulder Plaza Residential, LLC,
No. 06-cv-00037-PAB-CBS, 2010 WL 420046, at *3 (D. Colo. Feb.
1, 2010); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b)
(“[A]ny order or other decision, however designated,
that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the
action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised
at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all
the claims and all the parties' rights and
liabilities.”). Courts in this district have applied
different standards on motions for reconsideration of
non-final orders. See United Fire & Cas. Co.,
2010 WL 420046, at *3 (listing cases applying Rule 59(e)
standard, Rule 60(b) standard, and “law of the
case” standard). But as a general principle, courts may
grant motions to reconsider where there is “(1) an
intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence
previously unavailable, and (3) the need to correct clear
error or prevent manifest injustice.” Servants of
the Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir.
2000). A motion for reconsideration is not an avenue for a
party to reargue issues by rehashing facts and arguments
already addressed or available, yet neglected, in the
original proceeding. See id.; Van Skiver v.
United States, 952 F.2d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 1991).
Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1115(1)(a) provides, “A person
engaged in the business of insurance shall not unreasonably
delay or deny payment” to an insured person. An
insurer's action is unreasonable if its delay or denial
of payment was without a reasonable basis. See Turner v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 13-cv-01843-MSK-BNB,
2015 WL 1297844, at *3 (D. Colo. Mar. 19, 2015) (citing Colo.
Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1115(2)). Thus, the only element at
issue here is whether MetLife delayed and/or denied
Plaintiff's UIM benefits without a reasonable basis.
See Baker v. Allied Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 939
F.Supp.2d 1091, 1107 (D. Colo. 2013).
argues for reconsideration because the court failed to
consider its arguments that Plaintiff did not adduce any
evidence of MetLife's unreasonableness sufficient to
survive summary judgment, even on the claim for statutory bad
faith. [#49 at 4]. That is, MetLife demonstrated that it
“did everything within its power to obtain all the
necessary documentation to adequately evaluate the UIM
claim”, that Plaintiff refused to provide relevant
information from the underlying suit involving Ms. Vo, and
that Plaintiff could not testify as to how MetLife acted
unreasonably. See [id. at 4-5]; see
also [#32 at 20-21; #53 at 1-2].
Memorandum Opinion and Order on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment, the court held that Defendant's sole
basis for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's statutory
bad faith claim was that the one-year statute of limitations
rendered the claim untimely. See [#45 at 17]. The
court also noted that it appeared MetLife raised new
arguments for the first time in its Reply, which the court
would not consider. See [id. at 17 n.5].
Admittedly, the court did not explicitly consider whether Ms.
Stoole failed to adduce sufficient evidence of
unreasonableness for her statutory bad faith claim to survive
summary judgment. See [#32 at 20-21]. But that was
because Defendant did not move on that ground. Despite the
passing mention of the “unreasonable delay or denial
claim” in the section heading, Allstate requested only
that judgment be entered in its favor on the common law bad
faith claim. [Id. at 21 (“As such, judgment
must also be entered in favor of MetLife for the common
law bad faith claim.” (emphasis added))]. In
addition, the court's express consideration of the record
before it does not warrant a different outcome; summary
judgment in favor of Defendant remains inappropriate on Claim
its common law counterpart, statutory bad faith claims are
evaluated objectively based on industry standards.
Williams v. Owners Ins. Co., 621 Fed.Appx. 914, 919
(10th Cir. 2015); but cf. Kisselman v. Am. Family Mut.
Ins. Co., 292 P.3d 964, 973-74 (Colo.App. 2011)
(explaining the Colorado legislature's intent to create a
private remedy under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10 3-1115 that
was distinct for common law bad faith claims). “These
standards may be established through expert opinions or state
law.” Peden v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,
841 F.3d 887, 890 (10th Cir. 2016). For instance, the Unfair
Claims Settlement Practices Act (“UCSPA”) may be
valid, though not conclusive, evidence of industry standards.
See Etherton v. Owners Ins. Co., 829 F.3d 1209, 1227
(10th Cir. 2016) (citing Colo. Rev. Stat. §§
on these principles, it is not fatal to Plaintiff's
statutory bad faith claim that she could not personally
testify to instances of MetLife's unreasonableness other
than a valuation dispute.See MacKinney v. Allstate Fire &
Cas. Ins. Co., No. 16-cv-01447-NYW, 2017 WL 3397361, at
* 6 (D. Colo. Aug. 8, 2017) (finding that the plaintiff's
inability to testify to the defendant's unreasonableness
did not warrant summary judgment in favor of the defendant on
the plaintiff's statutory bad faith claim). In fact,
nowhere in its Motion for Summary Judgment or its Reply did
MetLife argue that Plaintiff failed to adduce
evidence of industry standards or lack of compliance with
industry standards, thereby putting the onus on Ms. Stoole to
establish a genuine dispute of material fact that
MetLife's conduct was unreasonable as compared to
industry standards. Instead, it appears that a central
factual dispute is whether Allstate appropriately adjusted
Plaintiff's claim. And Plaintiff's Response to the
Motion for Summary Judgment contends (albeit when addressing
the applicable statute of limitations) that the UCSPA
“requires that carriers conduct a fair, thorough, and
prompt investigation of an insured's UIM
claim”, and that it is for the jury to decide the
reasonableness of Defendant's conduct given the two years
of correspondence between the Parties regarding the valuation
of Ms. Stoole's UIM claim. See [#40 at 18-19].
The court again finds Defendant has failed to carry its
burden on summary judgment for purposes of Plaintiff's
statutory bad faith claim. See ...