Pelle v. Munos

Citation296 So.3d 14
Decision Date19 February 2020
Docket Number2019 CA 0549
Parties Justin Dewane PELLE v. Eric MUNOS and GEICO Casualty Company
CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)

296 So.3d 14

Justin Dewane PELLE
v.
Eric MUNOS and GEICO Casualty Company

2019 CA 0549

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit.

February 19, 2020


Mark A. Holden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellant, Justin Dewane Pelle

Russell L. Potter, Andrew P. Texada, Alexandria, Louisiana, Attorneys for Defendant/Appellee, Geico Casualty Company

BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO, AND LANIER, JJ.

PENZATO, J.

Plaintiff, Justin Dewane Pelle, appeals a trial court judgment denying his motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, Geico Casualty Company (Geico), and dismissing Pelle's claims against Geico with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The matter arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on July 14, 2017, when Pelle's vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Eric Munos. At the time of the accident, Munos was insured by Geico (Geico Liability) under a liability coverage policy numbered 4490-73-73-60. Pelle was insured by Geico (Geico Collision) under a policy of insurance numbered 4488-10-81-78, which afforded collision and comprehensive coverage.

Pelle made a claim for his property damage against Geico Liability. Geico Liability determined that Pelle's vehicle was totaled in the collision and forwarded a letter dated July 21, 2017, to Pelle containing the total loss settlement explanation that the net settlement amount was $13,087.00, including the value of the vehicle, a condition adjustment, and taxes. That letter referenced claim number 059626806-0102-022. On July 31, 2017, Pelle signed a bill of sale-power of attorney enabling Geico Liability to obtain title to the vehicle. That document also referenced claim number 059626806-0102-022 and was notarized by Pelle's attorney. As the liability insurer of Munos, Geico Liability paid Pelle's total loss settlement to the lienholder, as well as approximately a month of rental car expense under the property damage liability

296 So.3d 17

coverage of the Munos policy. Pelle testified by deposition that Geico provided a rental car for him for one month. He kept that car for two additional months and paid for the rental car charges himself. A rental car bill submitted into evidence shows the amount Pelle paid from August 25, 2017 through November 17, 2017. Geico Collision asserts that Pelle's rental car bill was paid by Geico Liability from July 17, 2017, until August 24, 2017,1 which is confirmed by Pelle's testimony. Therefore, Pelle's rental car expenses were paid by Geico Liability for approximately 25 days after the bill of sale-power of attorney was signed by Pelle on July 31, 2017. Geico Liability advised counsel for Pelle by letter dated September 15, 2017, that the property damage to Pelle's vehicle had been handled under claim number 059626806-0102-022, where Pelle was a third-party claimant and no deductible was withheld from the payment. Furthermore, Geico Liability paid the tax and title amount to the lienholder.

Pelle filed suit in this matter on September 27, 2017, specifically naming as defendants Munos and Geico Liability. Although Geico Collision was not specifically named as a defendant, Pelle asserted that Geico Collision had issued him a policy of insurance for property damage and failed to submit payment to him more than thirty days after his submission of proof of claim. Pelle sought his deductible, tax and registration fees, the full amount of all property damage, all the rental car fees he paid, plus bad faith penalties and attorney's fees for the denial of his claim.

Geico Liability answered the suit claiming that Pelle made a claim for property damages against Munos's Geico liability policy, and it was handled under claim number 059626806-0102-022. Geico Liability also asserted that the bill of sale-power of attorney signed on July 31, 2017, referenced claim number 059626806-0102-022, which Pelle signed and his attorney notarized.

On November 6, 2017, Geico Collision filed its own answer, asserting that no claim had ever been submitted under the policy of insurance issued to Pelle, and that all payments made by Geico Liability were pursuant to the policy issued to Munos.

On August 16, 2018, Pelle dismissed all bodily injury claims against Munos and Geico Casualty Company (in its liability capacity), reserving his rights against Munos, Geico Casualty Company, and any party related to or arising from the property damage to his vehicle. On September 18, 2018, Geico Collision filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that Pelle had been fully compensated for his property damage from Geico Liability, that he was not entitled to duplicative payment from Geico Collision, that the collateral source rule does not apply to Pelle's claim for collision coverage, and that any property damage claims against Geico Collision should be dismissed. Geico Collision attached several documents to its motion for summary judgment, including, the deposition of Pelle with several attached exhibits, including a vehicle application, the July 21, 2017 letter of total loss explanation, the bill of sale-power of attorney, the rental car bill evidencing the amount Pelle paid, and the policy of insurance issued to Pelle.

Pelle opposed Geico Collision's motion for summary judgment and filed a counter motion for summary judgment, asserting that the property collision coverage

296 So.3d 18

on his vehicle is a collateral source; that Geico Collision has no legal or conventional subrogation for the damages related to Munos's liability policy; that Geico Collision failed to adjust claims fairly and promptly and failed to make a reasonable effort to settle claims in violation of La. R.S. 22:1973(A) ; that Geico Collision misrepresented pertinent facts in violation of La. R.S. 22:1973(B) ; that Geico Collision failed to make a written offer to settle any property damage claim within thirty days of receipt of satisfactory proof of the loss in violation of La. R.S. 22:1892 ; and that Pelle could receive a double recovery from a collateral source for which he has given consideration, including under an insurance policy. Pelle attached several documents to his motion for summary judgment, including his own affidavit, the September 15, 2017 letter from Geico, Pelle's amending and supplemental petition, the July 21, 2017 letter from Geico, and discovery responses from Geico Collision.

The trial court heard both motions for summary judgment on October 30, 2018, and orally granted Geico Collision's motion for summary judgment and denied Pelle's cross motion for summary judgment. In accordance with its oral ruling, the trial court signed a judgment dismissing the claims of Pelle against Geico Collision on November 13, 2018. It is from this judgment that Pelle appeals.2

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

In his only assignment of error, Pelle contends that the trial court wrongfully granted Geico Collision's motion for summary judgment, wrongfully denied Pelle's motion for summary judgment, and wrongfully dismissed Pelle's petition for damages and penalties.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment procedure is favored and "is designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action .... and shall be construed to accomplish these ends." La. C.C.P. art. 966(A)(2). In reviewing the trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment, this court applies a de novo standard of review using the same criteria applied by the trial courts to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate. Reynolds v. Bordelon, 2014-2371 (La. 6/30/15), 172 So. 3d 607, 610.

After an opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. C.C.P. art. 966(A)(3). The only documents that may be filed in support of or in opposition to the motion are pleadings, memoranda, affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, certified medical records, written stipulations, and admissions. La. C.C.P. art. 966(A)(4).

The mover bears the burden of proving that he is entitled to summary judgment. However, if the mover will not bear the burden of proof at trial on the subject matter of the motion, he need only demonstrate the absence of factual support for

296 So.3d 19

one or more essential elements of his opponent's claim, action, or defense. La. C.C.P. art. 966(D)(1). If the moving party points out that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, then the nonmoving party must produce factual support sufficient to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact or that the mover is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. C.C.P. art. 966(D)(1) ; Holmes v. Lea, 2017-1268 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/18/18), 250 So. 3d 1004, 1009.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the trial court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 cases
  • Leisure Recreation & Entm't, Inc. v. First Guaranty Bank
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • February 11, 2021
    ...... Pelle v. Munos, 2019-0549 (La. App. 1st Cir. 2/19/20), 296 So. 3d 14, 18 n.2. Thus, we will treat the appeal accordingly. LAW AND DISCUSSION In its first ......
  • Leisure Recreation & Entm't, Inc. v. First Guar. Bank
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • February 11, 2021
    ...in addressing the appeal of the granting of the cross-motion for summary judgment. Pelle v. Munos, 2019-0549 (La. App. 1st Cir. 2/19/20), 296 So. 3d 14, 18 n.2. Thus, we will treat the appeal accordingly.LAW AND DISCUSSION In its first assignment of error, the Bank contends that the trial c......
  • St. Tammany Parish Hosp. Serv. Dist. No. 2 v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • March 23, 2022
    ......167 Id. at *9. 168 Id. 169 550 F.Supp.3d 108, 119–20 (S.D.N.Y. 2021). 170 Id. at 118–19. 171 Id. at 119–20. 172 Id. 173 Pelle v. Munos , 2019-0549 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/19/20), 296 So.3d 14, 25 ( citing Clausen v. Fidelity and Deposit Co. of Maryland , 95-0504 (La.App 1 Cir. ......
  • St. Tammany Par. Hosp. Serv. Dist. No. 2 v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • March 23, 2022
    ...... [ 170 ] Id. at *7. . . [ 171 ] Id. at *8. . . [ 172 ] Id. . . . [ 173 ] Pelle v. Munos , 2019-0549. (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/19/20), 296 So.3d 14, 25 ( citing. Clausen v. Fidelity and Deposit Co. of Maryland , 95-0504. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT