United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of an insurer's alleged breach of an
uninsured motorist policy contract following an automobile
accident. Pending before the Court is Defendant State
Farm's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Mot. Summ.
J., ECF No. 45.) For the reasons given herein, the Courts
grants the Motion.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
following facts are largely taken from State Farm's
motion and are not disputed by Plaintiff.
23, 2014, Jillian Shaw, a minor, was involved in an
automobile accident, which caused her bodily injuries and
required her to incur medical expenses. (Compl. ¶¶
7-8, ECF No. 1 at 15; Mot. Summ. J. 3, ECF No. 45.) At the
time of the accident, Plaintiff Linda Shaw
("Plaintiff")-Jillian's grandmother and legal
guardian-had a State Farm automobile insurance policy that
included uninsured motorist ("UIM") coverage of up
to $250, 000 per person and medical payments coverage
("MPC") of up to $5, 000 for eligible insureds.
(Compl. ¶¶ 9-10; Mot. Summ. J. 4.)
the accident, Jillian received treatment for her physical
injuries through March 3, 2015. (Mot. Summ. J. 4; PL's
Demand Letter 2-5, ECF No. 45-4 at 11-14.) She then treated
with Dr. JoAnn Lippert for post-traumatic stress disorder
("PTSD") on July 9, July 30, and August 6, 2015.
(Mot. Summ. J. 4; PL's Demand Letter 5-6.) Jillian had a
fourth appointment scheduled with Dr. Lippert for August 19,
but she failed to show. (Mot. Summ. J. 4; Dr. Lippert's
Session Notes 5, ECF No. 45-5 at 6; Linda Shaw Dep. 55:15-24;
ECF No. 45-8.) As a result of her treatment for physical
injuries and PTSD, Jillian incurred a total of $16, 710.98 in
medical expenses. (Mot. Summ. J. 4; PL's Demand Letter
around January 2016, the insurer of the individual who caused
the accident settled Jillian's bodily injury claim for
$100, 000. ((Mot. Summ. J. 4; Settlement Letter, ECF No.
45-6.) Jillian also recovered $5, 000 from State Farm, the
MPC limit on Plaintiffs policy. (Mot. Summ. J. 4; Def.'s
Letter of May 31, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at 6.)
17, 2016, Plaintiffs counsel sent a letter to State Farm,
detailing Jillian's damages and demanding the $250, 000
policy limit on Plaintiffs UIM coverage. (Demand Letter, ECF
No. 45-4 at 10-19.) State Farm then evaluated the demand,
applied an offset of $105, 000, and offered a UIM payment of
$4, 000 to settle Plaintiffs claim. (Mot. Summ. J. 4-5;
Def.'s Case Notes 10-11, ECF No. 45-7 at 7-8; Def.'s
Letter of May 31, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at 6.) Plaintiffs
response to State Farm's initial settlement offer reveals
the crux of the present dispute: "Could you please
provide, consistent with damages allowed by Nevada law, how
you evaluated the case in terms of Miss Shaw's
continuing issues with PTSD." (Def.'s Letter of
June 16, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at 9 (emphasis added).) State
Farm answered Plaintiffs letter on June 21, 2016, explaining
that it based its offer on all the documentation Plaintiff
had provided, and that it had applied the $105, 000 offset
consistent with insurance payments already received. State
Farm also indicated that it had concerns about attributing
Jillian's chipped teeth and PTSD to the automobile
accident because she had not sought treatment for these
particular issues until approximately six months and one year
after the accident, respectively. (Def.'s Letter of June
21, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at 4-5.) Plaintiff responded on July
27, 2016, offering explanations for the delays in treatment
and asking several more pointed questions: "In your
evaluation of this case are you discounting any of the
incurred medical bills? What value are you placing on past
pain and suffering? What value are you placing on future pain
and suffering? What value are you placing on her diagnosis of
PTSD and its future consequences?" (Pl.'s Letter of
July 27, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at 7-8.)
Farm's next communication with Plaintiffs counsel was a
telephone call on August 17, 2016. During that call, State
Farm's representative informed Plaintiffs counsel that
State Farm would include the future expenses for
Jillian's two chipped teeth at the estimated rate
provided by her dentist, which was in the range of $289 to
$399 per tooth. State Farm also stated that all the medical
expenses for which Plaintiff provided documentation-including
the treatment for PTSD-were fully included in its evaluation
of Jillian's damages. However, State Farm took the
position that the documentation did not support the need for
future expenses, predominantly because Jillian had not
received any treatment for PTSD for approximately one year.
(Def.'s Case Notes 7-8, ECF No. 45-7 at 4-5.) Plaintiffs
counsel responded that State Farm was being unreasonable,
that he would not decrease his demand for the UIM policy
limit of $250, 000, and that he would proceed with suing
State Farm for bad faith. (Id.)
following day, on August 18, State Farm sent a final letter
to Plaintiffs counsel, confirming their discussion from the
day before, and extending an amended settlement offer of $6,
000. (Def.'s Letter of August 18, 2016, ECF No. 45-4 at
2-3.) In this letter, State Farm reiterated that their most
recent evaluation included future medical expenses for
Jillian's chipped teeth in the range of $289 to $399 per
tooth. State Farm also stated that it had "included the
actual medical expenses for the PTSD being claimed. The last
visit was 8/6/15. Per our discussion today [sic], there are
no additional visits beyond this last visit. As discussed,
the medical documentation provided does not support the need
for additional future treatment." (Id.)
then filed this case in the Second Judicial District Court of
the State of Nevada, Washoe County, on August 24, 2016.
(Compl., ECF No. 1 at 13.) Plaintiff asserted three claims
under Nevada law: (1) breach of contract; (2) bad faith; and
(3) violation of NRS 686A.310');">686A.310 et seq. State Farm
removed on October 4, 2016.
Farm now moves for summary judgment on Plaintiffs second and
third claims for bad faith and violation of NRS 686A.310');">686A.310
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
must grant summary judgment when "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(a). Material facts are those which may affect
the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a
material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for
a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. See Id. A principal purpose of summary
judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
determining summary judgment, a court uses a burden-shifting
scheme. The moving party must first satisfy its initial
burden. "When the party moving for summary judgment
would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward
with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if
the evidence went uncontroverted at trial." C.A.R.
Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d
474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears
the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party
can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence
to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed
to make a showing sufficient to establish an element
essential to that party's case on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24.
moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary
judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the
nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970). If the moving party
meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the
opposing party to establish a genuine issue of material fact.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the
existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not
establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor.
It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be
shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties'
differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W.
Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n,
809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the
nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying
solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by facts.
See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir.
1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions
and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts
by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue
for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.
summary judgment stage, a court's function is not to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine
whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant
is "to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are
to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. But if
the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.
See Id. at 249-50. Notably, facts are only viewed in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party where there
is a genuine dispute about those facts. Scott v.
Harris,550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). That is, even where
the underlying claim contains a reasonableness test, where a
party's evidence is so clearly contradicted ...