The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment (Dkts. 11 & 15). The Court heard oral argument on October 9, 2012, and took the matter under advisement. For the reasons set forth below the Court will deny Defendant Unigard Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 11), and grant Plaintiff Neil
T. Durrant's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. 16).
Plaintiff Neil T. Durrant seeks underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage based on an insurance policy with the defendant, Unigard Insurance Company. Durrant, while driving a tractor owned by Big D Ranch, was struck by a drunk driver. Durrant filed suit against the negligent driver, and he recovered the $100,000 limit on the driver's automobile insurance policy. Because this amount did not cover the full measure of Durrant's damages, Durrant filed an underinsured motorist claim with Unigard, his insurer, for the remaining, unpaid compensatory damages. Unigard denied the claim. It contends that Durrant's UIM coverage does not apply to the accident.
Durrant contends that Unigard wrongfully denied him UIM coverage, and he therefore filed this lawsuit. Now both parties seek summary judgment.
Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any claim or defense, "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). One of the principal purposes of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims ...." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986). It is "not a disfavored procedural shortcut," but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247--48 (1986). There must be a genuine dispute as to any material fact-a fact "that may affect the outcome of the case." Id. at 248.
The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir.1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir.1988).
When cross-motions for summary judgment are filed, the Court must independently search the record for factual disputes. Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc. v. Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 2001). The filing of cross-motions for summary judgment -- where both parties essentially assert that there are no material factual disputes-does not vitiate the court's responsibility to determine whether disputes as to material fact are present. Id.
The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute as to material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000).
This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Id. at 256--57. The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by her affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" ...