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Amplatz v. Country Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 21, 2014

Maria Amplatz, Plaintiff,
v.
Country Mutual Insurance Company, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PAUL A. MAGNUSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Country Mutual Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff Maria Amplatz's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is denied and Plaintiff's Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Maria Amplatz owns three rental properties in Mound, Minnesota, and one in Maple Plain, Minnesota. (Compl. ¶ 1.)[1] The parties refer to these properties as: (1) the Game Farm Property, located at 1150 Game Farm Circle; (2) the Cherry Property, located at 3838 Cherry Avenue; (3) the Farmhill Property, located at 3650 Farmhill Drive; and (4) the Lakeshore Property, located at 2857 Lakeshore Avenue in Maple Plain. Amplatz maintained commercial insurance on the properties through Defendant Country Mutual Insurance Company. (Id. ¶ 4.) The policy at issue here covered the period from February 2010 through February 2011. (Id.)

In July 2010, all four of Amplatz's properties sustained damage from a severe hailproducing thunderstorm. (Id. ¶ 5.) There is no dispute that the storm was an event for which the policy provided coverage. The only dispute is how much Country should pay for the damage under the policy. Amplatz contends that the policy provided for replacement cost value coverage for her properties. Country acknowledges that the policy so provided, but asserts that Amplatz was required to affirmatively elect replacement cost value coverage, as opposed to actual cash value coverage, and that Amplatz failed to do so. In addition, Country claims that Amplatz cannot receive replacement cost value for the damage because she did not have the damage repaired within a reasonable time, as the policy required. Country paid Amplatz what it deemed the actual cash value; Amplatz contends that the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost value is more than $300, 000.

Although both parties seek summary judgment, they do not dispute that substantial factual questions remain that a factfinder must resolve. Country asks the Court to order that any damages Amplatz can prove at trial should be limited to actual cash value, and Amplatz seeks judgment on her claim that she is entitled to replacement cost value in an amount to be established at trial.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is proper if there are no disputed issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the evidence and inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). However, "summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986).

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. at 323; Enter. Bank, 92 F.3d at 747. A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest on mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts in the record showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).

A. Election of Coverage

There is no dispute that Amplatz's policy provided for replacement cost coverage for damage to her properties, rather than the actual cash value coverage the typical commercial insurance policy provides. In relevant part, Amplatz's policy provided:

a. Replacement Cost (without deduction for depreciation) replaces Actual Cash Value in the Loss Condition, Valuation, of this Coverage Form.
* * * *
c. You may make a claim for loss or damage covered by this insurance on an actual cash value basis instead of on a replacement cost basis. In the event you elect to have loss or damage settled on an actual cash value basis, you may still make a claim for the additional coverage this Option Coverage provides if ...

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