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Erika Stoye v. Geico General Insurance Company

September 29, 2011

ERIKA STOYE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Sedwick United States District Judge

ORDER AND OPINION

[Re: Motions at Dockets 18 and 34]

I. MOTIONS PRESENTED

At docket 18, defendant Geico General Insurance Company ("defendant" or "Geico") moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for summary judgment in its favor. Plaintiff Erika Stoye ("plaintiff" or "Stoye") opposes the motion at docket 25. Geico's reply is at docket 28. Oral argument was heard on September 21, 2011.

At docket 34, Geico moves pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 21 and 42(b) to sever and stay Stoye's bad faith claim. Stoye opposes the motion at docket 36. Geico's reply is at docket 37. Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.

II. BACKGROUND

In March 2008, plaintiff's vehicle was struck while she was at a stop sign. The driver of the other vehicle was intoxicated and fled the scene on foot. The owner of the other vehicle was in the passenger seat at the time of the accident, and also intoxicated, but he did not leave the scene. Stoye sustained various injuries.

Stoye's vehicle was insured by Geico. The policy included coverage for bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and $50,000 in uninsured or underinsured motorist ("UIM") coverage. The other vehicle was insured by State Farm. Litigation against the unidentified driver and owner of the other vehicle settled for the limits of the owner's insurance policy in November 2010. Upon settlement, Stoye made a UIM claim with Geico.

The parties corresponded by letter between November 2010 and March 2011. Stoye provided Geico with various medical records related to the collision and a copy of Stoye's deposition from the previous litigation. Geico sent Stoye a medical authorization release and requested that her counsel contact a claims examiner to schedule a recorded interview. On February 24, 2011, Stoye's counsel indicated she would be filing suit. Geico responded on March 2, 2011, noted its previous requests for a medical authorization release and recorded interview, and also requested an examination under oath. Stoye filed the present lawsuit on February 28, 2011, in state court, asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The case was removed to federal court on April 12, 2011.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."*fn1 The materiality requirement ensures that "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment."*fn2 Ultimately, "summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."*fn3 In resolving a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.*fn4 The reviewing court may not weigh evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses.*fn5 The burden of persuasion is on the moving party.*fn6

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Motion at Docket 18

1. Conditions of the Insurance ...


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