United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
JEANNETTE H. DAYS, Plaintiff,
STONEBRIDGE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, Jr. JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. 30.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion
is GRANTED. Plaintiff's claims are
DISMISSED and the Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to close this case.
case arises from the death of Plaintiff's husband,
Benjamin Days Sr., in an accident that occurred on April 21,
2008. (Doc. 33 at 2.) At the time of his death, Mr. Days was
• covered by two life insurance policies issued by
Defendant. (Id.) Both policies included three
possible schedules for recovery-identified in the relevant
documents as "Part[s]." (Doc. 6, Attachs. 2-5.)
Part I provided coverage for injuries incurred by reason of
travel by common carrier, Part II provided coverage for
injuries occurring during travel by passenger automobile and
land motor vehicle accidents, and Part III provided coverage
for all other injuries. (Id.) Following her
husband's death, Plaintiff sought recovery of benefits
under the life insurance policies. (Doc. 33, at 2.)
paid benefits to Plaintiff under Part III of both policies
for injuries unrelated to a passenger automobile or land
motor vehicle accident. (Doc. 33, Attachs. 12-13.) On August
27, 2014, Plaintiff filed suit in the State Court of Chatham
County seeking payment under Part II of the policies,
interest on the unpaid benefits from the date of Mr.
Days's death, and all associated costs and fees incurred
in prosecuting this action. (Doc. 1, Attach. 1.)
Plaintiff's complaint stated that Mr. Days "died as
a result of a bicycle accident, " but did not allege
that a motorized vehicle was involved. (Id. at 2.)
Plaintiff asserted in her complaint that Defendant wrongfully
declined to pay benefits under Part II of the policies.
(Id. at 2-4.) Plaintiff also claimed that Defendant
acted in bad faith when it withheld the benefits to which
Plaintiff was allegedly entitled under Part II. (Id.
at 3.) Defendant subsequently invoked this Court's
diversity jurisdiction and removed the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1.)
October 3, 2014, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc.
6, Attach. 6.) In that motion, Defendant argued that
Plaintiff's complaint failed to state a claim for which
relief could be granted and that Plaintiff's breach of
contract claim was barred because Plaintiff had failed to
file suit within a contractually specified period of time.
(Id.) Plaintiff responded that she had sufficiently
put Defendant on notice as to the claims against it and that
Plaintiff's claims were not time barred because the
contractual limitations in the insurance policies were
tolled. (Doc. 8.) On September 14, 2015, this Court entered
an order deferring ruling on the motion to dismiss pending
supplemental briefing regarding the appropriate choice of
law. (Doc. 26.) Following that supplemental briefing, the
Court determined that Illinois law was applicable to the
case. (Doc. 29.) The Court also dismissed Plaintiff's
claim based on Defendant's alleged bad faith failure to
pay under the policies to the extent the claim was predicated
on O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6. (Id.)
filed a renewed Motion to Dismiss following that ruling.
(Doc. 30.) In that motion, Defendant argued that Plaintiff
could not maintain a claim for breach of contract because
Plaintiff had failed to allege any facts that a land motor
vehicle was involved in her husband's death.
(Id.) In addition, Defendant maintained that the
statute of limitations had run on Plaintiff's claim,
effectively barring her suit. (Id.) On June 30,
2017, this Court granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
(Doc. 32.) The Court concluded that Plaintiff had failed to
state a claim that would have entitled her to recover under
Part II of the insurance policies (Id. at 9.) After
reviewing the contract language and Illinois law, the Court
concluded that a bicycle did not qualify as a land motor
vehicle. (Id. at 8-9.) As a result, Plaintiff's
allegation that her husband was injured on a bicycle failed
to state a claim that would have entitled her to any relief
based on a breach of contract claim. (Id. at 6-9.)
Because Plaintiff failed to state a breach of contract claim,
the Court also dismissed Plaintiff's bad faith claim.
(Id. at 9-10.) The Court, however, provided
Plaintiff with fourteen days to file an amended complaint.
(Id. at 10.)
5, 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint again alleging
a breach of contract claim based on Defendant's refusal
to pay benefits under Part II of the insurance policies.
(Doc. 33.) In response, Defendant has now filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's
complaint. (Doc. 35.) Defendant contends that Plaintiff's
claim fails because (1) Plaintiff's suit is barred by the
three-year contractual limitation provision in the insurance
policies; and (2) there is no evidence that Mr. Days's
death was the result of a land motor vehicle accident as
required by Part II of the insurance policies.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense-or the part of each claim of defense-on which summary
judgment is sought." Such a motion must be granted
"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." Id. The "purpose of
summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to
assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine
need for trial.' " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee notes).
judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The substantive law governing the action determines whether
an element is essential. DeLong Equip. Co. v. Wash. Mills
Abrasive Co., 887 F.2d 1499, 1505 (11th Cir. 1989).
Supreme Court explained:
[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to
the nonmovant to establish, by going beyond the pleadings,
that there is a genuine issue as to facts material to the
nonmovant's case. Clark v. Coats & Clark,