United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Atkins United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Westfield
Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment,
asserting that Brandy Baker is not entitled to underinsured
motorist coverage under Westfield's policy. [R. 39].
Baker filed her response and Westfield replied. [R. 49, 52].
The issues are now ripe for review. For the following
reasons, the Court GRANTS Westfield's
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
essential facts in this matter are not disputed. This case
arises from an automobile collision with a pedestrian that
occurred on August 17, 2018 in Isom, Kentucky along a
four-lane highway. On that date, Baker was struck by the
alleged tortfeasor's vehicle, Defendant Rocky L. Christy.
Prior to the accident, Baker exited her vehicle on the
northbound shoulder of Kentucky Highway 15 and walked across
the four-lane highway, traveling southbound. Although it is
unclear Baker's reason for exiting her vehicle due to her
memory loss from the accident, it appeared that she was
attempting to retrieve something from the road. Soon after
she entered the highway to retrieve the unknown object, Baker
began crossing the highway again to walk back to her parked
vehicle. At this point, Christy's vehicle struck Baker as
she was crossing the highway. It was never determined by the
parties what object Baker was attempting to retrieve from the
time of the accident, Baker was employed as a home health
nurse by Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc.
("Appalachian Regional Healthcare"). As part of her
employment, Baker was permitted to drive a company vehicle to
complete home visits and personal errands. Prior to the
accident, Baker completed two home visits. Westfield insured
the vehicle that was issued and used by Baker on the date of
January 14, 2019, Baker filed suit in Letcher Circuit Court
against both Christy and Westfield. [R. 1-1]. On February 8,
2019, Westfield timely removed this case to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at
Pikeville. [R. 1-2]. Following the consent of the parties,
this case was assigned to this Court by the District Court.
[R. 11]. Baker seeks coverage under Westfield's
underinsured motorist insurance coverage asserting that
Christy was underinsured at the time of the accident. [R. 1-1
at 9]. Westfield now moves pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and
asks this Court to grant summary judgment, alleging that
Baker is not covered under the terms of its policy. [R. 39].
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
substantive law applies to Baker's UJJVI claim and the
interpretation of Westfield's policy, but federal law
dictates the summary judgment standard. Biegas v.
Quickway Carriers, Inc., 573 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir.
2009). Accordingly, "[a] party may move for summary
judgment, identifying each claim or defense - or the part of
each claim or defense - on which summary judgment is
sought." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[A] party seeking
summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its
motion." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). Such a motion then "requires the
nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). This
is so because "[o]ne of the principal purposes of the
summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims or defenses." Id. at 323-24.
To avoid summary judgment, the non-movant must come forward
with evidence on which a jury could reasonably find in its
favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 252 (1986). The following factors bear consideration by
a court when entertaining a motion for summary judgment:
1. Complex cases are not necessarily inappropriate for
2. Cases involving state of mind issues are not necessarily
inappropriate for summary judgment.
3. The movant must meet the initial burden of showing
"the absence of a genuine issue of material fact"
as to an essential element of the non-movant's case.
4. This burden may be met by pointing out to the court that
the respondent, having had sufficient opportunity for
discovery, has no evidence to support an essential element of
his or her case.
5. A court should apply a federal directed verdict standard
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. The inquiry on a
summary judgment motion or a directed verdict motion is the
same: whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement
to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law.
6. As on federal directed verdict motions, the
"scintilla rule" applies, i.e., the
respondent must adduce more than a scintilla of evidence to
overcome the motion.
7. The substantive law governing the case will determine what
issues of fact are material, and any heightened burden of
proof required by the substantive law for an element of the
respondent's case, such as proof by clear and convincing
evidence, must be satisfied by the respondent.
8. The respondent cannot rely on the hope that the trier of
fact will disbelieve the movant's denial of a disputed
fact, but must "present affirmative evidence in order to
defeat a properly supported motion for summary
9. The trial court no longer has the duty to search the
entire record to establish that it is bereft of a genuine
issue of material fact.
10. The trial court has more discretion than in the "old
era" in evaluating the respondent's evidence. The
respondent must "do more than simply show that there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Further, "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find" for the
respondent, the motion should be granted. The trial court has
at least some discretion ...