United States District Court, D. Colorado
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Y. WANG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the Order to Show Cause
dated July 10, 2019 [#36], Plaintiff James Roberts's
(“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Roberts”)
Response to the Order to Show Cause (or
“Plaintiff's Response”), filed July 11, 2019
[#37], and Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance
Company's (“Defendant” or “State
Farm”) Response to Plaintiff's Response to Order to
Show Cause (“Defendant's Response”), filed
July 25, 2019 [#43]. The undersigned Magistrate Judge
considers this matter 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 Parties' Responses, the applicable case law, and
being sufficiently advised in the premises, the court
GRANTS summary judgment in favor of
Defendant and against Plaintiff and DISMISSES with
prejudice Plaintiff's breach of contract claim.
court has discussed the background of this matter in its
prior Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order to Show Cause,
see [#36], and therefore limits its discussion here
to only the most salient facts. This civil action arises out
of an insurance dispute between Plaintiff and his insurer
State Farm, stemming from bodily injuries Plaintiff sustained
in an automobile collision. See [#1; #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 under Policy Number 069 0807-D08-06J (the
“Policy”). See [#28 at ¶ 9].
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].
On May 16, 2019, the Parties appeared before the undersigned
for a Scheduling Conference. See [#23]. Relevant
here, the court had a discussion with the Parties regarding
the claims Mr. Roberts asserted in this matter:
THE COURT: And so as I understand it, your previous complaint
had both a late payment of the UIM benefits and then a breach
of contract based on nonpayment. They paid the $23, 500; is
MR. FRANKL: Correct, Your Honor.
MS. SALG: So, Your Honor, my understanding is that the
plaintiff is actually withdrawing the breach of contract
claim, and if that is the case -- so the only case that's
going to go forward would be the statutory delay/denial claim
. . . .
THE COURT: That's not exactly the way I read the
statements of the claim, so Mr. Frankl, do you want to
MR. FRANKL: That is not how I read it either. I'm a
little -- as I - I've had a chance to do more research
and I found that there are cases which hold that where there
is payment of an amount claimed after a lawsuit is filed,
that that can be deemed a confession under some
circumstances. It depends in part on whether State Farm,
either through its witnesses or representatives, basically
says the amount was due all along. And based on that
interpretation, I think it's both breach of contract and
unreasonable denial, but also unreasonable delay now that
that money has been paid.
THE COURT: Okay. So it sounds to me, Mr. Frankl, based on
that -- so I'm going to be frank with you. I'm not
sure how you can recover on both a breach contract for delay
as well as a statutory delay, but --
MR. FRANKL: I can't.
[#46 at 3:1-5, 3:11-15, 3:17-4:9]. Counsel for Plaintiff later
clarified that Plaintiff was not seeking any additional
benefits under the Policy:
MR. FRANKL: No. Basically at this point when the complaint
was filed, there was $23, 000 ...