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Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Tallman

March 10, 2010

LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RONALD TALLMAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF ROBYN TALLMAN, DECEASED, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court are cross Motions for Summary Judgment filed by the Plaintiff Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual") (Doc. 15) and the Defendant Ronald Tallman ("Defendant" or "Tallman") (Doc. 12). The Motions have been fully briefed and are therefore ripe for our review.*fn1

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ., 442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).

Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a factfinder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

II. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This declaratory judgment action arises out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred on October 3, 2004, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. On that day, Defendant Tallman was injured and his wife, Robyn Tallman, was killed while riding on a 2002 Harley Davidson Motorcycle insured by Liberty Mutual.

Liberty Mutual issued an automobile policy to Defendant designated as policy #A02-281-420514-803, which listed three covered automobiles. The policy incorporated stacked UIM coverage with limits of $100,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per accident (the "Automobile Policy"). Liberty issued a second policy to Defendant, designated as policy # A02-281-057966, which listed three covered motorcycles ("the Motorcycle Policy"). This policy also incorporated stacked UIM coverage with limits of $100,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per accident. The motorcycle involved in the accident was insured under this policy.

The Automobile Policy contains a UIM Coverage endorsement which contains the following exclusion referred to as the "Household Exclusion."

A. We do not provide Underinsured Motorist coverage for "bodily injury" sustained:

1. While "occupying a motor vehicle owned by you or a "family member" not insured for Underinsured Motorist Coverage under this policy, nor to "bodily injury" ...


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