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Hampden Auto Body Co. v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 25, 2019

HAMPDEN AUTO BODY CO., Plaintiff,
v.
AUTO-OWNERS INSURANCE CO., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Marcia S. Krieger Senior United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (# 35), the Plaintiff's Response (# 44), and the Defendant's Reply (# 50). For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part.

         I. JURISDICTION

         The Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         This is a case in which the Plaintiff, Hampden Auto Body Co (Hampden)., seeks to recover insurance benefits for property damage and loss of business income. Hampden owns a business in Denver, Colorado, that was insured under an insurance policy (Policy) issued by Defendant Auto-Owners Insurance Co. (Owners) In May 2014, Hampden's paint drying system was damaged in a by a lightning strike. Hampden submitted a claim to Owners, but various communications over the course of the next year were ignored. Eventually, Owners inspected the paint-drying system in June 2015 and paid for its repair. With regard to Hampden's business-income claim, Owners determined a loss of $221, 193.

         Hampden brought this suit in May 2017, asserting the following causes of action: (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and (3) a violation of C.R.S. §§ 10-3-1115, 1116 based on unreasonable delay of the claim.[2] Owners now moves for summary judgment on all claims (# 35).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure facilitates the entry of a judgment only if no trial is necessary. See White v. York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995). Summary adjudication is authorized when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and a party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive law governs what facts are material and what issues must be determined. It also specifies the elements that must be proved for a given claim or defense, sets the standard of proof, and identifies the party with the burden of proof. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kaiser-Francis OilCo.v.Producer=sGasCo., 870 F.2d 563, 565 (10th Cir. 1989). A factual dispute is “genuine” and summary judgment is precluded if the evidence presented in support of and opposition to the motion is so contradictory that, if presented at trial, a judgment could enter for either party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a summary judgment motion, a court views all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, thereby favoring the right to a trial. See Garrett v. Hewlett Packard Co., 305 F.3d 1210, 1213 (10th Cir. 2002).

         If the movant has the burden of proof on a claim or defense, the movant must establish every element of its claim or defense by sufficient, competent evidence. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). Once the moving party has met its burden, to avoid summary judgment the responding party must present sufficient, competent, contradictory evidence to establish a genuine factual dispute. See Bacchus Indus. Inc. v. Arvin Indus. Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991); Perry v. Woodward, 199 F.3d 1126, 1131 (10th Cir. 1999). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, a trial is required. If there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, no trial is required. The court then applies the law to the undisputed facts and enters judgment.

         If the moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, it must point to an absence of sufficient evidence to establish the claim or defense that the non-movant is obligated to prove. If the respondent comes forward with sufficient competent evidence to establish a prima facie claim or defense, a trial is required. If the respondent fails to produce sufficient competent evidence to establish its claim or defense, then the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Owners moves for summary judgment on all claims. In viewing the parties' arguments, it is helpful to keep in mind two provisions of the Policy. First, as to the loss payment:

In the event of loss or damage covered by this Coverage Form, at our option, we will either:
(1) Pay the value of the loss or damaged property;
(2) Pay the cost of repairing or replacing the lost or ...

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