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Auto-Owners Life Insurance Co. v. Burnett

United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division

May 6, 2015




This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company’s (“Auto-Owners”) motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 12).[1] For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


A. Statement of the Facts

This action involves alleged misrepresentations in a disability insurance application. On June 30, 2007, Devereaux Burnett applied for disability insurance with Auto-Owners. (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 1). Burnett claimed he became disabled and unable to work after he fell from a tractor trailer truck and injured himself on February 23, 2007. (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 3). He filed subsequent claims for disability on October 2, 2007, July 31, 2009, and March 10, 2011.[3] (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 7). As a result of these claims, Burnett received $3, 170.00 per month from Auto-Owners between December 17, 2007, and March 25, 2013, totaling $202, 880.00. (Docs. 1-4; 12-1, ¶¶ 7-8).

On Burnett’s application for disability insurance, Burnett represented to Auto-Owners that he was not already receiving any disability income from another source. (Doc. 12-1 at 13). However, by failing to respond to Auto-Owners’ statement of material facts, Burnett admits that at the time he applied for insurance with Auto-Owners, he was already receiving approximately $3, 000 per month in disability payments from Combined Insurance. (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 2). Burnett also admits he misrepresented on his application that he had not missed work because of an accident or sickness for more than ten days at a time; that for the previous five years, he had not made a claim for benefits to any insurance company because of illness and injury; and that for the previous ten years, he had not been treated for arthritis, back trouble, or any disorder of the spine, muscle, joints, or bones. (Doc. 12-1, ¶¶ 10-12). Burnett further admits that he knowingly made all of the above misrepresentations with the intent to deceive and induce Auto-Owners into providing him disability insurance. (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 13).

B. Procedural History

Auto-Owners filed its complaint on March 5, 2014, alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment based on the alleged misrepresentations in Burnett’s application for disability insurance. (Doc. 1). Burnett answered the complaint with a general denial of the claims. (Doc. 5). During discovery, Auto-Owners served Burnett with its initial disclosures, first continuing interrogatories, and first requests for admission.[4] (Doc. 12-2, ¶¶ 4-5, 9). After Auto-Owners moved for summary judgment, Burnett filed his answer to Auto-Owners’ interrogatories but did not respond to Auto-Owners’ requests for admission. (Doc. 15).

The Court then provided Burnett, a pro se party, with two notices explaining his option to respond to Auto-Owners’ motion for summary judgment. (Docs. 19; 22). After receiving the first notice, Burnett filed a response styled as a “motion to dismiss.” (Doc. 20). Auto-Owners responded to this motion and Burnett replied. (Docs. 21; 23). After receiving the second notice from the Court, he filed a response to Auto-Owners’ motion for summary judgment.[5] (Doc. 24). Burnett did not provide a response to Auto-Owners’ requests for admission in any of these filings.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

A court must 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 factual dispute is genuine only if ‘a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.’” Info. Sys. & Networks Corp. v. City of Atlanta, 281 F.3d 1220, 1224 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting United States v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th Cir. 1991)). The burden rests with the moving party to prove that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. The party may support its assertion that a fact is undisputed by “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), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

“If the moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party must establish all essential elements of the claim or defense in order to obtain summary judgment.” Anthony v. Anthony, 642 F.Supp.2d 1366, 1371 (S.D. Fla. 2009) (citing Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d at 1438). The moving party must carry its burden by presenting “credible evidence” affirmatively showing that, “on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d at 1438. In other words, the moving party’s evidence must be so credible that, if not controverted at trial, the party would be entitled to a directed verdict. Id.

“If the moving party makes such an affirmative showing, it is entitled to summary judgment unless the nonmoving party, in response, ‘come[s] forward with significant, probative evidence demonstrating the existence of a triable issue of fact.’” Id. (quoting Chanel, Inc. v. Italian Activewear of Fla., Inc., 931 F.2d 1472, 1477 (11th Cir. 1991)) (alteration in original). However, “credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge. ... The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Thus, the Court “‘can only grant summary judgment if everything in the record ...

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