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Minter v. Libert Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

September 30, 2014

TIA MINTER, Plaintiff,


CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the motion of the Defendant, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual"), for summary judgment as to all counts of the First Amended Complaint of the Plaintiff, Tia Minter ("Minter"). DN 81-13. Fully briefed, the matter is now ripe for adjudication. Having considered the parties' respective positions, the court concludes that there are no material issues of fact in dispute. For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. DN 81-13.


This case arose from events that followed a motor vehicle accident involving Plaintiff, Minter, and a third-party tortfeasor, Debra Floeter ("Floeter"), in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The Defendant, Liberty Mutual, is Minter's insurer and became involved in the underlying controversy when Minter claimed underinsured motorists ("UIM") benefits under the insurance policy she maintained with Liberty Mutual. The parties do not dispute the following facts.

On August 29, 2007, a third-party tortfeasor, Floeter, rear-ended the vehicle Minter was operating as it was stopped in traffic. The impact caused Minter's vehicle to collide with the vehicle stopped in front of her, damaging both the rear and front of her vehicle. DN 12-3. Minter did not report any injuries to the officer whom responded to the accident. Id. But she does allege that, on her way home, she experienced pain in her left arm and hand - and that within three to five days, she began experiencing constant pain in her neck that radiated to her left shoulder, arm, and hand. She did not, however, seek medical treatment for these ailments until January 22, 2008, over four months later.

On January 22, Minter underwent an MRI examination that revealed a "very large extruded disc at C5-6 [vertrebrae] to the left causing C6 compression and lateral recess." DN 81-3, p. 1. She, accordingly, sought treatment at River City Orthopedics, and eventually underwent disc replacement surgery - specifically, an anterior cervical decompression at C5-C6 and insertion of an artificial cervical disk. Id. She reports that the surgery relieved some, but not all, of her sympto DN 88. So on April 1, 2008, Minter made a reparations claim on her Liberty Mutual policy for costs associated with the accident and surgery. Liberty Mutual did not oblige but did note a potential UIM claim in Minter's file and established a reserve of $50, 000 on her $100, 000 UIM policy limit.

On May 14, 2009, Minter's counsel sent State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm"), Floeter's insurer, an offer to settle Minter's claim against Floeter for State Farm's policy limit of $100, 000. When Minter's counsel recognized that Floeter's coverage was less than his anticipated value of Minter's claim, rendering her "underinsured", he also sent a letter to Liberty Mutual indicating that he would be making a demand for Minter's UIM policy limit.

Shortly thereafter, State Farm refused to pay the Floeter's policy limit, so Minter filed a complaint against her for negligence in Jefferson Circuit Court on June 25, 2009. DN 81-4. On February 2, 2010, over seven months later, State Farm offered its full policy limit to settle Minter's claim against Floeter. Then Minter's counsel provided Liberty Mutual a Coots letter, informing Liberty Mutual, among other things, of State Farm's offer to settle and that Floeter's policy limit was "grossly inadequate" in light of the damages that Minter could recover; therefore, he demanded that Liberty Mutual pay her UIM policy limit of $100, 000. And on March 30, when Liberty Mutual had still not responded to the Coots letter and demand, Minter amended her complaint to add Liberty Mutual as a defendant and assert an underinsured motorist's claim against it. DN 88-5.

Around this time, Liberty Mutual took several steps in investigating Minter's claim. It made discovery requests, deposed Minter and five of her previous co-workers, had Minter independently medically examined, and subpoenaed all of her medical records. Then, on January 6, 2011, Liberty Mutual offered to settle Minter's UIM claims for $75, 000. She rejected this offer, and, on January 13, Liberty Mutual offered to settle for the $100, 000 policy limit. Minter accepted the offer, signed a Release, DN 81-10, and the court entered an Agreed Order Dismissing Settled Claims Against Liberty Mutual. DN 81-11.

On March 30, 2011, Minter filed this action against Liberty Mutual alleging that it had breached its duty to settle her UIM claim in good faith in violation of Kentucky's Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act and the common law tort of bad faith. DN 1-1. Liberty Mutual removed the case to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. With leave of court, Minter then filed her First Amended Complaint, asserting the following claims against Liberty Mutual: (1) violation of Kentucky's Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act ("UCSPA"), Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 304.12-230, 304.12-235 (Count I); (2) common law bad faith (Count II); and (3) violation of Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act ("KCPA"), Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 367.220 et seq. (Count III). DN 1; DN 42. In her First Amended Complaint, Minter alleges that she suffered financially, has been embarrassed, inconvenienced, and has suffered financial detriment because of the delay in payment of her claims. DN 42. She demands damages for her inconvenience, anxiety, mental anguish, and other compensatory damages caused by Defendant's alleged bad faith and she claims punitive damages to "punish and deter Liberty Mutual and others from engaging in such conduct." Id. Minter now admits, however, that she suffered no financial damages as a result of Liberty Mutual's conduct. DN 81-12.

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on each count of the First Amended Complaint. We will now address the merits of the motion.


A court may grant a motion for summary judgment if it finds that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the nonmoving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The evidence must be construed in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bohn Aluminum & Brass Corp. v. Storm King Corp., 303 F.2d 425 (6th Cir. 1962). However, the nonmoving party is required to do more than simply show there is some "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party cannot rely upon the assertions in its pleadings; rather that party must come forward with probative evidence, such as sworn affidavits, to support its clai Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. It must present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "The mere ...

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