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Oprenchak v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

November 4, 2013

Richard Lee Oprenchak, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
American Family Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries, Defendant.

Richard Lee Oprenchak, Jr., 10215 32nd Avenue North, Plymouth, MN 55441, pro se.

David P. Jendrzejek, Esq. and Moss & Barnett, PA, 90 South Seventh Street, Suite 4800, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for defendant.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American Family). Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.

BACKGROUND

This employment dispute arises out of the 2010 termination of pro se plaintiff Richard Lee Oprenchak, Jr. by American Family. In April 2002, Oprenchak began working for American Family as a property claim specialist. Franzen Aff. Ex. C. In 2006, Oprenchak was promoted to property claim desk manager in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Oprenchak Dep. 23:19-23. That position was eliminated in early 2009, and American Family informed Oprenchak that he had to relocate to Madison, Wisconsin in order to retain his job. Am. Compl. ΒΆ 2.1.3. Oprenchak ultimately did not relocate, but began reporting to the Madison office and supervisor Jim Andersen in May or June of 2009. Oprenchak Dep. 22:4-6, 24:3-6.

During a September 2009 performance review, Andersen concluded that Oprenchak had inadequately supervised adjusters working under him and gave Oprenchak a rating of "Inconsistent [Plus]." Franzen Aff. Exs. G, K. As a result, Andersen provided Oprenchak with a written reminder and assigned him "Decision-Making Leave, " whereby Oprenchak was to spend two days "away from the office considering [his] future with American Family." Id . Ex. I. The written reminder cited Oprenchak's "lack of file supervision" over two files that resulted in "large losses" to American Family and expressed that both files "lacked proactive supervision on [Oprenchak's] part and unacceptable management of the loss." Id., at 1. Oprenchak continued to work for American Family and provided Andersen with an "Action Plan" detailing steps he intended to undertake "to correct the deficiencies in my file audits." Id., at 3.

In March 2010, Oprenchak handled a claim for a ring that an insured lost and later recovered. Oprenchak Dep. 105:14-106:5. American Family initially paid the insured $26, 600. Id . at 105:22-25. After finding the ring, the insured offered to reimburse American Family and keep the ring. See id. at 108:2-10. Oprenchak instead accepted $5, 000 for the ring, believing that the ring's depreciated value justified a decreased amount. Id . at 108:21-22, 117:10-25, 120:9-16. Specifically, Oprenchak informed Andersen that if American Family recovered the full $26, 600, it would be "a violation of the insurance code." Id . at 118:7-8. American Family eventually recovered the full amount from the insured. See Franzen Aff. Ex. L.

In May 2010, Andersen received a report on Oprenchak prepared by a regional specialist. Id . Ex. M. Andersen determined that Oprenchak had inadequately supervised his files, conferred with American Family's human resources staff and terminated Oprenchak on May 20, 2010. See id. Ex. N.

On May 30, 2012, Oprenchak filed an amended complaint, alleging fraud, breach of contract, negligence, wrongful termination, infliction of emotional distress, libel, slander and discrimination. American Family moves for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

"The court shall grant summary judgment if 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. See id. at 252.

On a motion for summary judgment, the court views all evidence and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See id. at 255. The nonmoving party, however, may not rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings but must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex , 477 U.S. at 324. A party asserting that a genuine dispute exists - or cannot exist - about a material fact must cite "particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). If a plaintiff cannot support each essential element of a claim, the court must grant summary judgment, because "a ...


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