United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHARLES A. SHADID, L.L.C., Plaintiff,
ASPEN SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
TIMOTHY D.DEGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Plaintiff's Motion in Limine [Doc. No. 87]
and Defendant's Motion in Limine [Doc. No. 79], which are
fully briefed and at issue.
case concerns insurance coverage for property damage from a
May 31, 2013 tornado allegedly affecting approximately 20
commercial properties owned by Plaintiff, under a policy
issued by Defendant in August 2012. See Second Am.
Compl. [Doc. No. 8], ¶¶ 4, 6. The Court has denied
summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for
breach of contract and insurer's bad faith. Both parties
seek pretrial rulings on the admissibility of evidence that
may be offered at the jury trial currently set on the
Court's August 14, 2018 docket. Upon consideration of the
issues raised by the parties' Motions, the Court makes
the following determinations.
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine
seeks to exclude evidence and argument regarding three
subject areas: 1) any claim by Defendant that it is not
responsible for any loss during the policy period on a date
other than May 31, 2013; 2) any defense to coverage that was
not asserted by Defendant as a basis for denying
Plaintiff's insurance claim; and 3) any information or
evidence that Defendant obtained after it denied
Plaintiff's insurance claim.
response, Defendant contends Plaintiff is seeking dispositive
legal rulings that should have been raised by a motion for
summary judgment. Defendant notes that Plaintiff does not
cite any evidentiary rules or refer to any particular
testimony or exhibits but, instead, argues in support of the
Motion that the Court should issue pretrial rulings as a
matter of law concerning the reach of the insurance policy
and available defenses. For ease of discussion, the Court
addresses Plaintiff's propositions in reverse order.
seeks to exclude all evidence that Defendant obtained after
it denied Plaintiff's insurance claim. Plaintiff relies
on Buzzard v. Farmers Ins. Co., 824 P.2d 1105 (Okla.
1991), and Newport v. USAA, 11 P.3d 190 (Okla.
2000), for the proposition that the focus of a bad faith
claim is the time period that a claim is being reviewed and
that evidence developed later is inadmissible on the issue of
bad faith. As noted by Defendant, Plaintiff presents this
argument as a legal rule, without reference to any particular
evidence or any evidentiary rule.
proposes an unworkable evidentiary ruling for the trial of
this case, which involves contested issues of coverage and
alleged bad faith conduct. One of Defendant's reasons for
denying the insurance claim was that Plaintiff allegedly did
not cooperate in the investigation. To show that Plaintiff
failed to provide available information and that Defendant
was prejudiced by the failure, Defendant will need to
introduce information and documents that it subsequently
obtained from Plaintiff or others. Another trial issue is the
amount of Plaintiff's insured loss. Defendant is entitled
to rebut Plaintiff's proof on this issue and to use
presently-available, admissible evidence in defense of
short, the Court rejects Plaintiff's implicit argument
that all evidence obtained by Defendant after it made a
coverage decision is irrelevant to the trial issues. The
Court is unable to rule categorically in advance of trial
that all after-acquired evidence should be excluded.
related to Plaintiff's requested ruling regarding
available evidence, Plaintiff asks the Court to bar Defendant
from asserting any coverage defenses other than the reasons
given for its decision to deny Plaintiff's insurance
claim. Again, the Court finds itself unable to rule
categorically as an evidentiary matter that Defendant should
be limited to certain arguments or defenses. Plaintiff should
object at trial, as appropriate to particular testimony or
items of evidence, if Defendant delves into irrelevant
argues that the coverage issue should not be limited to
property damage resulting from the May 31, 2013 storm and,
thus, Defendant should be prohibited from asserting that
other weather events during the policy period cannot be
considered in support of Plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff
asserts that “insurance policy coverage is a matter for
the Court's determination, ” and urges the Court to
“decide as a matter of law” that Defendant is
“responsible for covered property damage occurring
within the policy period.” See Pl.s' Mot.
at 2, 6. The Court agrees with Defendant that Plaintiff
appears to be seeking a dispositive ruling on a substantive
issue, rather than an evidentiary ruling. Plaintiff, through
counsel, may advocate at trial after a full ...