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Houghtling v. Allstate Insurance Company

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

December 18, 2019

Kenneth R. Houghtling, Plaintiff,
v.
Allstate Insurance Company, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DONALD C. COGGINS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's and Defendant's cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 13, 15. Both motions have been fully briefed. ECF Nos. 16, 17.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this action seeking a declaration that he is entitled to stack underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage under a policy with Defendant on three at-home vehicles. ECF No. 15 at 1. The parties have stipulated to the following facts:

1. On November 27, 2017, Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle driven by Vicatria Thomas a.k.a. Victoria Thomas . . . in Florence County, South Carolina.
2. Plaintiff is a named insured under Policy No. 930493351 (hereinafter “Policy”) issued by [Defendant] which provided bodily injury underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100, 000 for three vehicles listed as insured autos under the terms of the policy: a 2003 Chevy Silverado, 2016 Jeep Patriot and 2014 Honda Civic . . . .
3. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was a pedestrian and none of the vehicles listed on the Policy were involved in the accident.
4. Plaintiff has filed suit against Thomas, but has not been awarded a judgment against Thomas that is binding upon [Defendant], the UIM carrier.
5. Plaintiff received the $25, 000 bodily injury liability limits from Vicatria Thomas's automobile liability carrier in exchange for a covenant not to execute.
6. [Defendant] has paid $100, 000, an amount equal to the UIM limits on one of the vehicles listed on the Policy, in exchange for a release of Plaintiff's claim for UIM coverage on one vehicle. The release specifically reserved Plaintiff's right to pursue UIM claims for the other two automobiles insured under [the Policy] . . . .

ECF No. 11 at 1.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 states, as to a party who has moved for summary judgment, “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence would affect disposition of the case under applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence offered is such that a reasonable jury might return a verdict for the non-movant. Id. at 257. When determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).

         The party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings. Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must demonstrate specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient to withstand the summary judgment motion. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials, without more, are insufficient to preclude granting the summary judgment motion. Ross v. Commc'ns Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355, 365 (4th Cir.1985), overruled on other grounds, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Further, Rule 56 provides in pertinent part:

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), ...

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