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Humes v. Acuity

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 26, 2019

Donald Humes, Plaintiff
v.
Acuity, a Mutual Insurance Company, Defendant

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF LAW [ECF NO. 53]

          Jennifer A. Dorsey U.S. District Judge.

         This is an insurance-coverage dispute regarding a policy that Acuity, a Mutual Insurance Company, issued to Donald Humes. Acuity moves for “an Order acknowledging that South Dakota law will govern this action.”[1] But this requires application of Nevada’s conflict-of-law rules to the facts of this case, which are disputed. Because the motion does not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56-or any other rule-I deny it without prejudice to the parties’ ability to file a motion for partial summary judgment that complies with Rule 56 by October 16, 2019.

         Discussion

         Federal courts sitting in diversity apply “state substantive law to state law claims, including the forum state’s choice of law rules.”[2] “Nevada tends to follow the Restatement (Second) Conflict of Laws (1971) in determining choice-of-law questions involving contracts . . . and insurance contracts, in particular.”[3] Under § 193 of the Restatement, “[t]he validity of a contract of fire, surety or casualty insurance and the rights created thereby are determined by the local law of the state [that] the parties understood was to be the principal location of the insured risk during the term of the policy, unless with respect to the particular issue, some other state has a more significant relationship . . . to the transaction and the parties, in which event the local law of the other state will be applied.”[4]

         But that is the only “determination of law” I can provide for now. To determine whether Nevada or South Dakota law applies, I must apply § 193 to the facts in this case. And Acuity makes clear in the first paragraph of its reply that the facts necessary to make this determination are disputed:

Plaintiff completely misstates the history of the case, including the chronology of the pre-litigation claim handling. In doing so, he provides absolutely no evidentiary support for his contentions.[5]

         Acuity, too, provides almost no evidentiary support for the contentions in its briefs. Except for an unauthenticated insurance policy, neither party attaches affidavits, deposition transcripts, or any other evidence that can be presented in an admissible form at trial.[6] I simply cannot and will not make a conclusive determination of law based solely on facts asserted by counsel in their briefs.

         Neither party cites a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure in its brief. Although I might treat a “motion for determination of law” accompanied by evidence as a motion for partial summary judgment under Rule 56, [7] Acuity’s motion falls far short of meeting the procedural requirements in that Rule and Local Rule 56-1. Indeed, the motion emphasizes why these rules, which require the parties to cite to the record and set forth undisputed facts, exist. So I deny the motion without prejudice to either party moving for partial summary judgment on this issue under Rule 56.

         Conclusion

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Acuity’s motion for determination of law [ECF No. 53] is DENIED without prejudice to either party’s ability to reurge it under Rule 56 with a fully developed memorandum of points and authorities containing the supporting law, evidence, and analysis.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Scheduling Order [ECF No. 51] is AMENDED for the limited purpose of allowing the parties to file motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of what state’s law applies in this case by October 16, 2019.

---------

Notes:

[1] ECF No. 53 at 4.


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