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Roberts v. State Farm Mutual Automible Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 10, 2019

JAMES ROBERTS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Nina Y. Wang United States Magistrate Judge.

         Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang This matter comes before the court on three motions filed by Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm” or “Defendant”):

(1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [#30, filed June 14, 2019];
(2) Defendant's Motion to Stay Discovery (“Motion to Stay”) [#31, filed June 14, 2019]; and
(3) Defendant's Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages [#35, filed July 10, 2019].

         The undersigned Magistrate Judge considers the Motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and the Order of Reference for all purposes [#15]. This court concludes that oral argument will not materially assist in the resolution of these matters. Accordingly, having reviewed the Motion and associated briefing, the applicable case law, and the entire docket, the court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment without prejudice, with leave to re-file and DENIES AS MOOT the Motion to Stay and Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages.

         BACKGROUND

         This civil action arises out of an insurance dispute between Plaintiff James Roberts (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Roberts”) and his insurer State Farm. See [#1; #28]. About February 2017, Plaintiff sustained bodily injuries because of an automobile collision. [#28 at ¶¶ 7-8]. Believing his medical bills were more than the tortfeasor's own insurance limits, Plaintiff sought additional underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits from State Farm. See [id. at ¶ 9].

         The Parties exchanged several rounds of correspondence regarding Mr. Roberts's UIM claim. See [id. at ¶¶ 10-46]. Specifically, on April 17, 2018, State Farm offered $59, 319.45 to settle Plaintiff's claim. [Id. at ¶ 11]. Then, on June 12, 2018, State Farm wrote Mr. Roberts and stated that it had evaluated $23, 500 for pain and suffering for Plaintiff's UIM claim. [Id. at ¶ 14]. Though State Farm tendered benefits in the amount of $35, 819.45 under the insurance policy, see [id. at ¶¶19-20], Plaintiff initiated this civil action asserting claims for breach of contract and unreasonable delay or denial of an insurance benefit pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1115 (“statutory bad faith”) on February 6, 2019, see [#1]. Following service of the Complaint on February 11, 2019, Defendant tendered an additional $23, 500 in benefits as a reasonable amount owed to Plaintiff. See [#28 at ¶ 49].

         Relevant here, Mr. Roberts filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint on May 31, 2019. See [#25]. Then, on June 13, 2019, the Parties appeared before the undersigned for an informal telephonic discovery dispute conference regarding the Rule 30(b)(6) Notice issued to State Farm by Plaintiff. As confirmed by the court's review of the electronic recording of the conference, Plaintiff conceded that he was not seeking any additional UIM benefits under the policy, but he continued to argue that Defendant's payment of the $23, 500 constituted a confession of the breach of contract claim. [#27]. Also at this conference, Defendant indicated that it would not oppose the Motion to Amend in favor of filing of a dispositive motion, and thus the undersigned granted the Motion to Amend and deemed the Amended Complaint the operative pleading in this matter. See [#27]. The Amended Complaint, like the Complaint, asserts a breach of contract and statutory bad faith claim. See [#28]. Defendant then discussed its intention to file the instant Motion to Stay requesting that the court stay all discovery pending its determination of a forthcoming dispositive motion directed at the Amended Complaint.[1] See [id.].

         On June 14, State Farm filed an Answer [#29]; a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's statutory bad faith claim [#30]; and the instant Motion to Stay [#31]. Plaintiff has since filed his Response to the Motion to Stay [#33], and the court prohibited any Reply absent leave of the court; no such leave has been requested. Plaintiff has also filed his Response to the Motion for Summary Judgment [#34]. Though the time to Reply to the Motion for Summary Judgment has not yet lapsed, the issues presented by the Motion to Stay are intertwined with the Motion for Summary Judgment and this court finds that it is appropriate to adjudicate both matters presently.[2] See D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d). I therefore consider the Parties' arguments below.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         I. Motion for Summary Judgment

         State Farm moves for summary judgment in its favor on the second claim for relief, i.e., violation of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1115(1)(a) for unreasonable delay of the payment of Mr. Roberts's UIM claim.[3] Summary judgment is appropriate only 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Henderson v. Inter-Chem Coal Co., Inc., 41 F.3d 567, 569 (10th Cir. 1994). “A ‘judge's function' at summary judgment is not ‘to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 656 (2014) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)).

         Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132, 1136 (10th Cir. 2000); Carey v. U.S. Postal Service, 812 F.2d 621, 623 (10th Cir. 1987). A fact is “material” if it pertains to an element of a claim or defense; a factual dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is so contradictory that if the matter went to trial, a reasonable party could return a verdict for either party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “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., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing First Nat. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).

         II. Motion to Stay

         “The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for the stay of proceedings while a motion to dismiss is pending. Instead, Rule 1 instructs that the rules of procedure ‘shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Sutton v. Everest Nat'l Ins. Co., No. 07 CV 00425-WYD-BNB, 2007 WL 1395309, at *1 (D. Colo. May 9, 2007). Nonetheless, when ruling on a motion to stay, courts weigh the following factors: (1) the plaintiff's interests in expeditiously litigating this action and the potential prejudice to plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the defendants; (3) the convenience to the court; (4) the interests of persons not parties to the civil litigation; and (5) the public interest. String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 1:02-CV-01934-LTB-PAC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 30, 2006). But “stays of the normal proceedings of a court matter should be the exception rather than the rule, ” Ch ...


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