United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
November 9, 2005.
BARTLEY A. PIRINO, JR., Plaintiff,
SCRANTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF SCRANTON, DETECTIVE EDWARD RUTKOWSKI, Individually and as Agent for the City of Scranton and Scranton Police Department, SEAN PAUL FLYNN, Individually and as Agent for the City of Scranton, MICHAEL HARTLEY, Individually and as Agent of the City of Scranton, Scranton Police Department, and Allstate Insurance Company, EDWARD CAREY, Individually and as Agent of the City of Scranton Scranton Police Department, and Allstate Insurance Company, JAY LANDIS, Individually and as Agent of Allstate Insurance Company, ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. CAPUTO, District Judge
Presently before the Court is Motion of Defendants Allstate
Insurance Company and Jay Landis for Summary Judgment Pursuant to
Fed.R.C.P. 56(c) (Doc. 17). For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' motion will be granted. The Court has jurisdiction
over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and
28 U.S.C. § 1367.
Plaintiff was the record owner of real estate located at
1316-1318 Vine Street, Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
("property"). (Doc. 1 ¶ 16.) On February 13, 2003, the property was damaged by fire. (Doc. 1 ¶ 17.) On
February 14, 2003, Plaintiff submitted a claim to Allstate
Insurance Company ("Allstate") for fire damage. (Doc. 1 ¶ 17.)
Allstate conducted an investigation. (Doc. 1 ¶ 19.)
Plaintiff submitted evidence that in January 2004, Plaintiff
filed a bad faith claim against Allstate due to Allstate's
non-payment of his claim. (Doc. 1 ¶ 20.) Plaintiff further
submitted evidence that on February 4, 2004, Allstate denied
Plaintiff's claim based upon Allstate's policy terms which
provide that claims will be denied in the event that damages to
the insured property is caused intentionally. (Doc. 1 ¶ 21.) On
or about February 9, 2004, according to Plaintiff, "Allstate
filed criminal charges against Plaintiff, which included
insurance fraud and arson." (Doc. 1 ¶ 22.)
Defendants, however, submitted evidence that by letter dated
March 6, 2003, Shaun Flynn, Fire Inspector at the Scranton Fire
Department, requested information and evidence from Allstate
relating to the fire loss at the property, "in accordance with
the provisions of the Pennsylvania Arson Immunity Act." (Doc. 17,
Ex. C.) Defendants further submitted evidence that a Police
Criminal Complaint, approved by the Lackawanna County District
Attorney's Office, on or about February 9, 2004 was filed against
Plaintiff for arson and insurance fraud. (Doc. 17 ¶ 9, Ex. A.)
A preliminary hearing on the matter was held on April 5, 2004.
(Doc. 1 ¶ 24.) Defendant Jay Landis testified at the preliminary
hearing that Allstate denied Plaintiff's claim due to insurance
fraud and that Plaintiff had intentionally caused the fire. (Doc.
1 ¶ 31.)
On February 9, 2005, Plaintiff filed the present Complaint
(Doc. 1). Defendants Allstate and Landis moved for summary
judgment. (Doc. 17.) This matter is now ripe for disposition.
Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is
material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect
the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party
need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material
fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute
is not a genuine one. See id. at 248. An issue of material fact
is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Id.
Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has
the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue
of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHURR.
MILLER, FEDERALPRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL 2D § 2727 (2d ed.
1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where
the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to
the Court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a
sufficient showing of an essential element of her case." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
All doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material
fact must be resolved against the moving party, and the entire record must be examined
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See White v.
Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). Once the
moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the burden shifts
to the nonmoving party to either present affirmative evidence
supporting its version of the material facts or to refute the
moving party's contention that the facts entitle it to judgment
as a matter of law. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-257.
The Court need not accept mere conclusory allegations, whether
they are made in the complaint or a sworn statement. Lujan v.
Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). In deciding a
motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself
to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but
to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
Defendants Allstate and Landis move for summary judgment based
on immunity afforded them by the Pennsylvania Arson Reporting
Immunity Act ("Act"), 40 PA. CONS. STAT. §§ 1610.1, et. seq.
(2005).*fn1 Plaintiff disputes the applicability of the Act
to his case. (Doc. 21 at 2.) Specifically, Plaintiff argues that he did
"not bring claims against Defendants Allstate and Landis based
specifically on their release of information to Fire Inspector
Flynn and at the Preliminary Hearing. Rather, Plaintiff brings
claims against Defendants based on tortious conduct set forth
clearly in the Complaint." (Doc. 21 at 3.) Defendant Allstate and
Defendant Jay Landis are named in the following counts of
Plaintiff's Complaint: Count V (defamation); Count VI (civil
conspiracy); Count VII (intentional infliction of emotional
distress); Count VIII (negligent infliction of emotional
distress); Count X (false light); and Count XI (punitive
damages). (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 51-73, 77-85.)
Plaintiff has failed to submit any evidence to indicate that
the Act is not applicable to the claims in his Complaint against
Defendants Allstate and Landis. Immunity under the Act is
detailed in § 1610.4 which states:
Any insurance company, or person designated to act in
its behalf; or any authorized agency or person
authorized to act on its behalf, who shall release
information, whether oral or written, pursuant to
section 3 (a), (b) or (d) shall be immune from
liability arising out of a civil action and from
criminal prosecution with respect to the release of
such information, unless there be actual malice.
40 PA. CONS. STAT. § 1610.4 (2005) (emphasis added). Plaintiff
failed to submit evidence of any facts or circumstances, other than Defendants
release of information about his claim, that would illustrate
Defendants' liability for the claims asserted against them in the
Complaint. Further, Plaintiff failed to submit any evidence that
Defendants acted with actual malice. As such, there is no
question of material fact with regard to Defendants' immunity
from suit and I will grant Defendants' motion for summary
judgment in its entirety.
Plaintiff has failed to submit any evidence to indicate that
Defendants are not entitled to immunity from suit under the
Pennsylvania Arson Reporting Immunity Act. Motion of Defendants
Allstate Insurance Company and Jay Landis for Summary Judgment
Pursuant to Fed.R.C.P. 56(c) (Doc. 17) will be granted in its
An appropriate order follows. ORDER
NOW, this 9th day of November, 2005, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
that: Motion of Defendants Allstate Insurance Company and Jay
Landis for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.C.P. 56(c) (Doc.
17) is GRANTED.
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