Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Balentine v. Direct General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division

April 19, 2018

JOSHUA M BALENTINE, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
DIRECT GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant, DIRECT GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
CYNTHIA GLOVER Third Party Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ABDUL K. KALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Joshua Balentine and Nichole Meyers were injured in a motorcycle accident and filed a claim for uninsured motorist benefits with Direct General Insurance Company. Doc. 1. After Direct General denied the claim, doc. 28-1, Balentine and Meyers filed suit in state court, doc. 1-4, which Direct General removed to this court based on diversity jurisdiction, doc. 1. Direct General now moves for summary judgment, arguing that it is entitled to rescind the policy in question because the insured's application for insurance failed to include purportedly material information. Doc. 26. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. Docs. 26 & 28. After reading the briefs, viewing the evidence, and considering the relevant law, the court finds that the motion is due to be denied.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. “Rule 56[] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (alteration in original). The moving party bears the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who is required to “go beyond the pleadings” to establish that there is a “genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324 (internal quotations omitted). A dispute about a material fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         At summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence and all reasonable inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Any factual disputes will be resolved in the non-moving party's favor when sufficient competent evidence supports the non-moving party's version of the disputed facts. See Pace v. Capobianco, 283 F.3d 1275, 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2002). However, “mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mountain Park, Ltd. v. Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)). Moreover, “[a] mere ‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that party.” Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252)).

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Direct General issued an auto insurance policy to Cynthia Glover that contained uninsured motorist coverage. Doc. 26-2. Glover signed a one-page application which contains an acknowledgement that “ALL PERSONS AGES 14 AND OLDER WHO LIVE WITH ME HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THE COMPANY.” Doc. 26-2 at 7. The application also included an agreement that the policy “may be null and void and no coverage provided if the information provided in this application is false or misleading and would materially affect acceptance or rating of the risk by the Company.” Id.

         Sometime after Glover obtained the policy, her son, Balentine, and his girlfriend, Meyers, were riding Balentine's motorcycle when an allegedly negligent driver collided with them, causing them serious injuries. Docs. 1; 1-4. Balentine and Meyers filed suit in state court against the driver and the driver's insurance company, Progressive Specialty Insurance Company. Doc. 1-4. Progressive paid Balentine and Meyers $25, 000 each, which represented the full liability limit available under the driver's policy. Doc. 1-9. Because their bills totaled more than $100, 000, Balentine and Meyers filed an uninsured motorist claim with Direct General, asserting that they qualified as “family members” under Glover's policy. Doc. 1-1 at 4. Direct General denied the claim after learning that Glover had failed to disclose that Balentine was living with Glover when she applied for the policy, docs. 26-1 at 3; 28-1 at 1, and now seeks to rescind the policy.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Alabama law regulates insurance policies, and “where a statute governs the rights, obligations, and duties of an insurer or insured, that statute is read into and becomes a part of the insurance contract.” Thomas v. Liberty Nat. Life Ins. Co., 368 So.2d 254, 258 (Ala. 1979). The statute at issue here states, in relevant part, that:

         Misrepresentations, omissions, concealment of facts and incorrect statements [in an application for insurance] shall not prevent a recovery under the policy or contract unless either:

(1) Fraudulent;
(2) Material either to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
(3) The insurer in good faith would either not have issued the policy or contract, or would not have issued a policy or contract at the premium rate as applied for, or would not have issued a policy or contract in as large an amount or would not have provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss if the true facts had been made known to ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.