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O'Keefe v. Allstate Indemnity Co.

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 17, 2014

CHRISTOPHER O'KEEFE; JONI O'KEEFE, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

Defendant Allstate Indemnity Company ("Allstate") moves for summary judgment on whether any policy benefits are owed to Plaintiff Christopher O'Keefe ("O'Keefe"). Plaintiffs Christopher O'Keefe and Joni O'Keefe (collectively "Plaintiffs") oppose the motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the court finds the matters presented appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

On March 28, 2013, Plaintiffs commenced this diversity action by alleging three claims for relief: (1) breach of the insurance contract at issue; (2) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs' claims arise from the following generally described conduct.

Prior to November 27, 2010, O'Keefe had been a practicing lawyer. After suffering injuries in two car accidents, he "had to close down his law practice." (Compl. ¶15). His driver's license was also suspended due to the seriousness of the injuries. For "three to four years before November 27, 2010, ... Christopher could not drive a vehicle with a suspended license." (Compl. ¶16). In the fall of 2010, O'Keefe "was told by one of his treating neurologists that his medical condition was such that he could begin driving again." (Compl. ¶17). On November 27, 2010, Plaintiffs purchased a new Mini Cooper for $35, 540, making a down payment of $8, 000 and financing the remainder.

On December 14, 2010, Plaintiffs met with Mallory Lee ("Lee"), a licensed casualty broker-agent with the Ryan Hartwigsen Agency, and applied for an Allstate auto policy with respect to the new Mini Cooper. Plaintiffs allege that they informed Lee that O'Keefe had a suspended license and that he would be taking tests to have the driver's license suspension lifted. (Compl. ¶25). Lee informed Plaintiffs that O'Keefe would be listed as an excluded driver but would be added as soon as his driver's license was reinstated.

"Prior to February 24, 2011, ... Christopher learned that the suspension on his driver's license had been lifted." (Compl. ¶37). Plaintiff alleges that he made two telephone calls to Lee's office "before February 24, 2011 to advise of the lifting of the suspension on his driver's license." (Compl. ¶38). On both occasions, Lee was unavailable and O'Keefe allegedly spoke with Matthew Bevan ("Bevan"), also a licensed casualty broker-agent, and informed him that the suspension on his driver's license had been lifted and that the license was active. Bevan allegedly told O'Keefe "that so long as the Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV") had confirmed reinstatement, Christopher was good to go, ' no longer excluded from the policy, and would be added as the primary driver of the Mini Cooper on the Allstate policy." (Compl. ¶44).

On February 24, 2011, O'keefe was involved in a serious accident with other vehicles, resulting in the Mini Cooper's complete and total loss. After the accident, O'Keefe called Lee and reported the loss. Lee allegedly told O'Keefe that she had confirmed with Bevan that he "had previously called and advised the office about the lifting of the suspension on his driver's license." (Compl. ¶52). Lee requested a DMV history report reflecting the status of his license. On February 25, 2011, O'Keefe allegedly provided the DMV report to Lee. At no time prior to the accident did Allstate or its agents request any documentation "to have Christopher as the primary driver of the Mini Cooper." (Compl. ¶58).

On March 31, 2011, Allstate denied Plaintiffs' insurance claim on the ground that O'Keefe was an excluded driver at the time of the February 24, 2011 accident. (Compl. 63). Plaintiffs contested the denial of coverage and informed Allstate that (1) Lee represented that O'Keefe would be made the primary driver as soon as his driver's license was reinstated, (2) Bevan told Plaintiffs on two occasions before the accident that O'Keefe would be listed as the primary driver, and (3) the suspension of O'Keefe's drivers license ended on February 24, 2011. On June 9, 2011, Allstate again denied the claim. (Compl. ¶70).

On July 15, 2014, the court granted Allstate's motion to dismiss the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim with leave to amend. Plaintiffs did not file an amended complaint. In an opposed motion, Allstate moves for summary judgment on whether O'Keefe is entitled to any benefits under the policy.

DISCUSSION

Legal Standards

A motion for summary judgment shall be granted where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Prison Legal News v. Lehman, 397 F.3d 692, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the file which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). There is "no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 that the moving party support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim." Id . (emphasis in original). The opposing party cannot rest on the mere allegations or denials of a pleading, but must "go beyond the pleadings and by [the party's] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file' designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (citation omitted). The opposing party also may not rely solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).

The court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). Any doubt as to the existence of any issue of material fact requires denial of the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). On a motion for summary judgment, when "the moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence were uncontroverted at trial.'" Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992) ...


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