United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
REBECCA T. BAUMGARTNER, Plaintiff,
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.
RICHARD W. STORY, United States District Judge
case comes before the Court on Defendant State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company's Motion for Summary Judgment, or, in
the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss . After reviewing the
record, the Court enters the following Order.
an insurance dispute between Plaintiff Rebecca T. Baumgartner
and Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
(“State Farm”). On March 8, 2014, Ms. Baumgartner
notified State Farm of an alleged wind and hail loss at
property located at 6900 Brookside Drive, Roswell, Georgia
(“Property”). (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed
Mat. Facts (“Def.'s SMF”), Dkt. [33-2] ¶
1.) Ms. Baumgartner alleged that the property suffered roof
and interior structural damage from wind and hail damage that
occurred over a year earlier, on March 18, 2013.
(Id. ¶ 2.) At the time of the alleged loss, the
Property was covered under Homeowners Policy Number
11-GP-7111-4 (“Policy”), which was issued to Ms.
Baumgartner. (Id. ¶ 3.)
an investigation, State Farm determined that the cost to
repair the damage to the Property was $13, 536.27. (Bond
Aff., Dkt. [33-3] ¶ 7; Baumgartner Aff., Dkt. [39-1]
¶ 11.) Ms. Baumgartner's Policy contains a
$2, 000 deductible. (Def.'s SMF, Dkt. [33-2] ¶ 5.)
After deducting depreciation ($7, 415.77) and Ms.
Baumgartner's deductible, State Farm issued an actual
cash value payment of $4, 147.50 to its only named insured,
Ms. Baumgartner, for the claimed loss. (Id. ¶
Baumgartner disagreed with State Farm's determination and
filed suit against State Farm on April 30, 2015, for damages
to the Property. (Id. ¶ 7.) She sets forth
two counts: breach of contract and bad faith. (Compl., Dkt.
[1-1] ¶¶ 30-50.) Ms. Baumgartner alleges that the
Property suffered $100, 307.56 in roof damage and interior
damage to the walls, floors, and ceilings. (Def.'s SMF,
Dkt. [33-2] ¶ 8.) She does not allege, however, that she
suffered any damage to her personal property or furnishings.
(Id. ¶ 9.) She filed this suit in her
individual name only. (Id. ¶ 10.)
discovery, Ms. Baumgartner testified that the legal owner of
the Property is the “Hugh Lee Baumgartner Trust”
(“Trust”). (Id. ¶ 11.) Wesley
Hargrave serves as Trustee of the Trust. (Id. ¶
12.) Ms. Baumgartner does not make any mortgage or rental
payments to the Trust related to her use of the Property.
(Id. ¶ 14.) And the Trust handles maintenance
and major repairs on the Property. (Baumgartner Dep., Dkt.
 at 8:15-23; Baumgartner Aff., Dkt. [39-1] ¶
Ms. Baumgartner is listed as the only named insured on the
Policy's Declarations page. (Def.'s SMF, Dkt. [33-2]
¶ 15.) State Farm was not aware that Ms. Baumgartner was
not the owner of the Property until after Ms. Baumgartner
filed suit and her deposition was taken. (Bond Aff., Dkt.
[33-3] ¶ 9.)
Baumgartner's expert, Eduard Badiu, learned that the
Property was owned by the Trust prior to or on January 26,
2015, after searching the county's appraiser's
records. (Id. ¶ 18.) Mr. Badiu referenced the
Trustee, Mr. Hargrave, in his report dated January 26, 2015.
(Id. ¶ 19.) He then provided his report to Ms.
Baumgartner's consultants. (Id. ¶ 20.)
Still, Ms. Baumgartner did not disclose that the Trust and
Mr. Hargrave, in his capacity as Trustee, had an interest in
the outcome of this litigation in the Joint Preliminary
Report. (Id. ¶ 17.) She also did not submit a
Certificate of Interested Persons. (Id.)
Policy contains an Insurable Interest provision, in
“SECTION I - CONDITIONS, ” which says the
1. Insurable Interest and Limit of Liability. Even if more
than one person has an insurable interest in the property
covered, we shall not be liable:
a. to the insured for an amount greater than the
insured's interest; or b. for more than the applicable
limit of liability.
(Id. ¶ 21; Policy, Dkt. [33-5] at 36.)
October 27, 2015, State Farm filed a Motion for Leave to
Amend its Answer . The Court granted that motion on
November 23, 2015. State Farm then filed its Amended Answer
on November 23, 2015, asserting two new defenses: (1) Ms.
Baumgartner has no insurable interest in the Property; and
(2) Ms. Baumgartner is not the real party in interest.
(Def.'s Am. Answer, Dkt. .) As of the date of this