United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JUSTIN HARLOW, as personal representative of the estate of SONDRA CUNNINGHAM, Plaintiff,
GOLDEN RULE INSURANCE COMPANY administered by THE STATE OF LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Golden Rule Insurance Company's
(“Golden Rule”) Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc.
No. 54], filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Plaintiff
responded in opposition [Doc. No. 55], and Golden Rule
replied [Doc. No. 56]. The matter is fully briefed and at
2001, Sondra Cunningham and her husband purchased a term life
insurance policy on Ms. Cunningham's life through Golden
Rule. The policy contained a suicide clause, limiting the
proceeds to the amount of premiums paid by the insured if the
insured took her own life within two years of the policy
date. The suicide clause also addressed what would occur in
the event the policy was reinstated.
2009, following the death of her husband, Ms. Cunningham
allowed the policy to lapse. After undergoing additional
medical underwriting, Ms. Cunningham's policy was
reinstated in January 2010. On February 10, 2010, Ms.
Cunningham committed suicide.
as personal representative of Cunningham's estate, made a
claim against the policy. Citing the suicide provision,
Golden Rule denied the death benefit and sent the estate a
check for premiums paid since the reinstatement of the
policy. Golden Rule asserts that the two-year suicide clause
re-set after Cunningham reinstated her policy.
sole remaining claim is for breach of contract. Golden Rule moves
for summary judgment on two grounds. First, Golden Rule
asserts there was no breach of contract because the policy
limited recovery to the premiums paid after reinstatement
since Cunningham committed suicide within two years of
reinstating the policy. Golden Rule raises the alternative
defense that the policy was void since Ms . Cu nningham made
m a t e r i a l misrepresentations on her reinstatement form
that caused Golden Rule to reinstate the lapsed
asserts that reinstatement did not revive the suicide clause.
Alternatively, Plaintiff contends the policy language is
ambiguous. Plaintiff also argues in the alternative that the
original policy and reinstated policy are sufficiently
different so as to constitute a new policy based on the
judgment is appropriate when “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.”
Hiatt v. Colorado Seminary, 858 F.3d 1307, 1315
(10th Cir. 2017) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a)). A dispute is genuine “if there is sufficient
evidence on each side so that a rational trier of fact could
resolve the issue either way, ” and it is material
“if under the substantive law it is essential to the
proper disposition of the claim.” Becker v.
Bateman, 709 F.3d 1019, 1022 (10th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted). At the summary judgment
stage, the Court views the facts and all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Williams v. FedEx Corporate Services, 849
F.3d 889, 896 (10th Cir. 2017).
movant bears the initial burden of making a prima facie
demonstration of the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”
Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664,
670-671 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). If the movant
meets that burden, the nonmovant must “go beyond the
pleadings and ‘set forth specific facts' that would
be admissible in evidence in the event of trial from which a
rational trier of fact could find for the nonmovant.”
Adler, 144 F.3d at 671; see also Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). To accomplish this, the nonmovant must
identify facts by reference to the pleadings, depositions,
other discovery materials, exhibits or affidavits.
Id. The Court is not limited to the cited materials,
but rather may consider other materials in the record.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). The Court's inquiry is whether the
facts and evidence of record present “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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 251-252 (1986). Unsupported conclusory allegations
are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Matthiesen
v. Banc One Mortgage Corp., 173 F.3d 1242, 1247
(10th Cir. 1999).
AND MATERIAL FACTS
9, 2001, Ms. Cunningham applied for a term life insurance
policy through Golden Rule. Following review of Ms.
Cunningham's application, Golden Rule issued a term life
insurance policy on Ms. Cunningham's life for $200,
000.00. The effective date of the policy was August 8, 2001.
policy contained a suicide clause, which ...