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Norwood-Redfield Apartments Limited Partnership v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 18, 2017

NORWOOD-REDFIELD APARTMENTS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CAROL E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the defendant's motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Plaintiff has responded in opposition, and the issues are fully briefed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Norwood-Redfield Apartments Limited Partnership brings this action against defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company for breach of contract and vexatious refusal to pay a claim under a business owners' policy of insurance. Plaintiff owns an apartment complex consisting of 32 separate buildings covered by the policy. After a fire damaged Buildings 6, 7, and 9, plaintiff submitted a claim. Defendant made payments under the policy totaling $2, 897, 896.90. Plaintiff contends that because the fire completely destroyed Building 7, there was a "total loss" within the meaning of Missouri's valued policy statutes. Plaintiff also contends that Building 7 was insured for $31, 773, 600 under the policy's Blanket Coverage Endorsement, which provides as follows:

The most we will pay for loss or damage in any one occurrence is the applicable Limit of Insurance shown in the Declarations. When a coverage is Blanket, the Limit of Insurance shown in the Declarations applies to all the premises described in the Declarations for that coverage. All policy and endorsement language that refers to the Limit of Insurance shown in the Declarations also applies to any Blanket Coverage Limit of Insurance.

[Doc. #27, ¶ 18].

         In the instant motion, defendant argues that the Blanket Coverage Endorsement does not entitle plaintiff to recover the policy limit and that the Missouri valued policy statutes do not apply to plaintiff's loss.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be entered if the moving party shows "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." In ruling on a motion for summary judgment the court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the burden of showing both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations of his pleadings but "must set forth specific facts, " by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co. v. Honea, 458 F.3d 788, 791 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). Rule 56 "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who 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).

         III. Discussion

         A. Missouri Valued Policy Statutes

         Plaintiff contends that the loss of Building 7 constitutes a total loss of the insured property and argues that the Missouri valued policy statutes require defendant to provide the full value of the policy. Defendant argues that plaintiff is not entitled to the policy limit as a matter of law, because the destruction to Building 7 does not constitute a total loss and is thus not covered by the valued policy statutes.

         The Missouri valued policy statutes provide, in relevant:

...and in case of total loss of the property insured, the measure of damage shall be the amount for which the same was insured, less whatever depreciation in value, below the amount for which the property is insured, the property may have sustained ...

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