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Carswell v. State Farm Lloyds

United States District Court, N.D. Texas

December 6, 2017

LEONA G. CARSWELL,
v.
STATE FARM LLOYDS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, State Farm Lloyds, for summary judgment. The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, Leona G. Carswell, the reply, the record, the summary judgment evidence, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted in part.

         I. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff's operative pleading is her amended complaint filed April 13, 2017. Doc.[1] 15. Plaintiff alleges: Plaintiff purchased a rental dwelling policy from defendant providing coverage for property located in Fort Worth, Texas. Plaintiff's property was damaged in a fire caused by a gas explosion on or about March 19, 2010. Plaintiff used a contractor recommended by defendant, but the contractor failed to satisfactorily complete repairs. Plaintiff then undertook to complete the repairs herself as a general contractor, but defendant failed to pay her expenses incurred to repair or replace damaged property.

         Plaintiff asserts four "claims for relief." First, she sues under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code §§ 17.41-.63 (X, DTPA") . Second, she sues under the Texas Insurance Code § 541.060. Third, she sues for breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. And, fourth, she sues for breach of contract.

         II. Grounds of the Motion

         As best the court can tell, defendant contends that plaintiff cannot prevail on any of her claims.[2] None of the grounds is set forth with clarity and the argument follows a stream of consciousness style, which is difficult to follow. That plaintiff's amended complaint is extremely poorly drafted is not an excuse.

         III. Summary Judgment Principles

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court shall grant summary judgment on a claim or defense if 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); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986), The movant bears the initial burden of pointing out to the court that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 325 (1986). The movant can discharge this burden by pointing out the absence of evidence supporting one or more essential elements of the nonmoving party's claim, "since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323. Once the movant has carried its burden under Rule 56(a), the nonmoving party must identify evidence in the record that creates a genuine dispute as to each of the challenged elements of its case. Id. at 324; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) ("A party asserting that a fact . ., .is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record ....") If the evidence identified could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in favor of the nonmoving party as to each essential element of the nonmoving party's case, there is no genuine dispute for trial and summary judgment is appropriate. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 597 (1986). In Mississippi Prot. & Advocacy Sys., Inc. y. Cotten, the Fifth Circuit explained:

Where the record, including affidavits, interrogatories, admissions, and depositions could not, as a whole, lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no issue for trial.

929 F.2d 1054, 1058 (5th Cir. 1991).

         The standard for granting a motion for summary judgment is the same as the standard for rendering judgment as a matter of law.[3] Celotex Corp.,, 477 U.S. at 323. If 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, 475 U.S. at 597; see also Mississippi Prot. & Advocacy Sys., 929 F.2d at 1058.

         IV. Analysis

         A. Breach of Contract

         Defendant initially argued that plaintiff's breach of contract claim (her fourth claim for relief) is barred by limitations. Having considered plaintiff's ...


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