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Hudco, Inc. v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 18, 2014

HUDCO, INC., dba OK TRAILER SALES, and Idaho Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERATED MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a Minnesota Corporation, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it cross-motions for summary judgment on Plaintiff Hudco, Inc.'s breach-of-insurance contract claim against Defendant Federated Mutual Insurance Company. This case arises from a dispute between Hudco and its insurer, Federated, over the amount of coverage Federated's policy provides to Hudco in connection with fire damage to Hudco's RV dealership. Hudco alleges that Federated owes it an additional for $177, 277 in lost Stock/Parts Inventory.

The Court heard oral argument on October 8, 2014, and took the motions under advisement. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant Federated motion for summary judgment and deny Hudco's motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Hudco, Inc. owns and operates an RV dealership in Shelley, Idaho under the name OK Trailer Sales. Hudco obtained a commercial package insurance policy from Federated for the policy period from March 1, 2011, to March 1, 2012. On September 27, 2011, during the policy period, a fire erupted at OK Trailer Sales and destroyed an office building and a repair shop, along with the stock and inventory housed inside the buildings.

Hudco submitted a claim to Federated. Within 30 days, Federated paid out the Building limits of $980, 000 and the full Personal Property Limit of $150, 000. In addition, Federated paid $395, 564.61 in Business Income coverage and $45, 000 in coverage for the Personal Property of Others, including the Policy's $20, 000 limit for Personal Property of Others and an additional $25, 000 limited provided by the Policy's Employee Tools & Equipment Extension. The total amount Federated paid out was $1, 795, 938.60. Federated maintains that this amount represents the limits of what it owes under Hudco's insurance policy.

Hudco, however, disagrees. It claims that it still has not been compensated for $177, 277 in lost Stock/Parts Inventory. Specifically, Hudco contends that "[t]he Stock/Parts Inventory that [Hudco] lost in the fire was stock' and personal property' included within the Building coverage because it was not otherwise specified in the Declarations of coverage section nor separately identified in the Declarations of coverage itemization." Def's SOF, ΒΆ 15. Hudco further claims that "assurances of coverage" were provided by Federated. Seeking to recover this money that Hudco says Federated owes, Hudco filed this lawsuit alleging claims for breach of insurance contract and promissory estoppel. Both parties filed a motion for summary judgment.

LEGAL STANDARD

One principal purpose 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; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, id. at 255, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. 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).

The Court is "not required to comb through the record to find some reason to deny a motion for summary judgment." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir.2001) (quoting Forsberg v. P. Northwest Bell Tel. Co., 840 F.2d 1409, 1418 (9th Cir.1988)). Instead, the "party opposing summary judgment must direct [the Court's] attention to specific triable facts." Southern California Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir.2003).

There is, however, an exception to this rule when cross-motions for summary judgment are filed. In that case, the Court must independently search the record for issues of fact. 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 issues of material fact-does not vitiate the court's responsibility to determine whether disputed issues of material fact are present. Id. Accordingly, since the Court already has a duty to scour the record to resolve cross-motions for summary judgment, the Carmen line of cases discussed above does not apply to cross-motions.

Statements in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to create an issue of fact. Barnes v. Independent Auto. Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n. 3 (9th Cir. 1995). The Circuit "has repeatedly held that documents which have not had a proper foundation laid to authenticate them cannot support a motion for summary judgment." Beyene v. Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir. 1988). Authentication, required by Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a), is not satisfied simply by attaching a document to an affidavit. Id. The affidavit ...


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