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Pine Grove Manufactured Homes v. Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Co.

October 21, 2010

PINE GROVE MANUFACTURED HOMES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INDIANA LUMBERMENS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT,
INDIANA LUMBERMENS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAMBERLIN & REINHEIMER INSURERS, INC., THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Pine Grove Manufactured Homes, Inc.'s ("Pine Grove") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79), Defendant Indiana Lumbermans Mutual Insurance Group's ("ILM") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 83), and Third-Party Defendant Chamberlin & Reinheimer Insurers, Inc.'s ("CRI") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 75). For the reasons stated below, this Court will grant Pine Grove's Motion for Summary Judgment, grant CRI's Motion for Summary Judgment, and grant in part and deny in part ILM's Motion for Summary Judgment.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Pine Grove Manufactured Homes, Inc. ("Pine Grove") operates a facility that produces pre-fabricated buildings. (Compl. ¶ 6, Doc. 1.) On June 28, 2006 the facility was flooded when a nearby creek overflowed, causing damages to Pine Grove's building, materials and inventory. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.) At the time of the flood, Pine Grove had two insurance policies covering the facility, one from Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company and a commercial policy through ILM. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-12.) Pine Grove's loss was estimated to be three million, two hundred ninety-three thousand, nine hundred ninety-three dollars and thirty-eight cents ($3,293,993.38). (Id. ¶ 17.) Pine Grove submitted its claim under the Harleysville policy and, after the deductible was subtracted, received a payment of one million, one hundred sixty-five thousand, seven hundred fifty-one dollars and seventy cents ($1,165,751.70). (Id. ¶ 18.) Pine Grove then submitted the unpaid portion of the claim to ILM, who deducted its five hundred thousand dollar deductible ($500,000.00) and then paid one million, six hundred twenty-five thousand, five hundred fourteen dollars and sixty-eight cents ($1,625,514.68).

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 28, 2007, Pine Grove filed its Complaint, alleging Breach of Contract (Count I) and Bad Faith in violation of 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 8371 (Count II) against ILM and the ILM Group. Pine Grove alleges that it was permitted to apply the proceeds from its Harleysville policy to the deductible under the ILM policy, and that ILM is breaching its policy with Pine Grove by refusing to allow Pine Grove to do so. Pine Grove further alleges that ILM acted in bad faith by willfully and maliciously 1) failing to promptly and fairly settle its claim with Pine Grove, 2) compelling Pine Grove to institute litigation, 3) attempting to settle Pine Grove's claim for less than a reasonable amount under the policy, 4) advising Pine Grove that the Harleysville proceeds would be applied to satisfy the ILM deductible, 5) failing to advise Pine Grove until four (4) months after the flood that the Harleysville Proceeds would not, in fact, be applied to the ILM deductible, 6) failing to pay the insurance proceeds due to Pine Grove under the ILM policy, and 7) failing to adjust Pine Grove's claim fairly.

This Court granted ILM's Motion for Leave to File a Third-Party Complaint. (Doc. 18.) On January 26, 2009, ILM filed its Third-Party Complaint seeking Indemnification and/or Contribution from CRI. (Doc. 24.) CRI then filed a Motion to Strike or, in the alternative, Dismiss ILM's Third-Party Complaint on March 25, 2009. (Doc. 28.) On October 23, 2009, this Court denied CRI's Motion to Strike, granted CRI's Motion to Dismiss ILM's indemnification claim, and denied CRI's Motion to Dismiss ILM's contribution claim. (Doc. 38.) On a Motion for Reconsideration, this Court granted CRI's Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaint. (Doc. 47.) ILM then filed an Amended Third Party Complaint against CRI for contribution on February 5, 2010. (Doc. 53.) On May 5, 2010,. ILM filed an Amended Answer which included a counterclaim against Pine Grove for breach of contract. (Doc. 68.) Pine Grove, ILM, and CRI then each filed Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 79. 83, and 75.) The instant Motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

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©. A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. 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. Id. 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 & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE 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. 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. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57.

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 ...


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