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.

Jones v. Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

January 23, 2018

STEPHANIE JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE FIRE & CASUALTY INSURANCE CO., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND ENTERING A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed this action for a declaratory judgment regarding her status as a resident relative under an automobile insurance policy (the Policy) issued by Defendant to her mother, Catherine Holloway (Ms. Holloway), and Plaintiff's ability, as a resident relative, to stack underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on vehicles covered by the Policy. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Having carefully considered the motion, the response, the reply, the record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted, and the Court will enter a declaratory judgment holding Plaintiff is not a resident relative under the Policy and is therefore not entitled to stack UIM coverage under the Policy.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident on March 4, 2016, when the vehicle she was driving was hit by non-party Kylie Jones' (Ms. Jones) vehicle. ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 4. Plaintiff sustained injuries and incurred medical costs as a result of the collision. Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff recovered the policy limits from Ms. Jones' applicable insurance policy, but that recovery was insufficient to fully compensate Plaintiff for her losses resulting from the accident. See id.

         Plaintiff submitted a demand to Defendant for UIM benefits under the Policy, claiming status as a resident relative of the insured under the Policy and seeking to stack UIM coverage for the vehicles covered by the Policy. See Id. ¶¶ 6-7. The named insured on the Policy is Ms. Holloway, Plaintiff's mother; Ms. Holloway and Plaintiff are listed as drivers on the Policy. ECF No. 17-2 at 7. Ms. Holloway lives in Georgetown, South Carolina. Id. In response to Plaintiff's demand, Defendant concluded Plaintiff was not a resident relative of Ms. Holloway and was consequently not entitled to stack UIM benefits under the Policy. See ECF No. 17-3.

         Plaintiff filed this action in the Court of Common Pleas for Richland County, South Carolina, seeking a declaratory judgment on the issue of whether she is a resident relative under the Policy such that she is able to stack UIM benefits under the Policy. ECF No. 1-1. Defendant removed the case to this Court. ECF No. 1.

         Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment on October 30, 2017. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff responded in opposition on November 13, 2017, ECF No. 19, and Defendant replied on November 20, 2017, ECF No. 20. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant issues, is now prepared to discuss the merits of Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). Summary judgment should be granted under Rule 56 when ''the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'' Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists ''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). A fact is material if it might ''affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'' Id. On a motion for summary judgment, all evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir. 1990).

         The Declaratory Judgment Act pronounces “any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought.” 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a). A declaration issued under the Act “shall have the force and effect of a final judgment.” Id. A state declaratory judgment action removed to federal court invokes the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act. Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., 736 F.3d 255, 261 n.3 (4th Cir. 2013).

         IV. CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Defendant argues it is entitled to summary judgment in this action because Plaintiff did not qualify as a resident relative of Ms. Holloway, the named insured, at the time of the accident and therefore has no right to stack UIM benefits under the Policy. In support of its contention Plaintiff was not a resident relative under the Policy during the relevant time period, Defendant notes Plaintiff enrolled in an aesthetics course in Columbia, South Carolina in January 2015 and has lived in Columbia ever since, including at the time of the accident. Defendant points out Plaintiff received her last tax refund at an address in Columbia, and she has been working at her present job in Columbia, which she testified she likes, since June 2015. Defendant further relies on Plaintiff's testimony that she returns to Ms. Holloway's house in Georgetown, South Carolina only about every other weekend, as well as employment forms and medical bills listing her address in ...


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.