United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT THE UNITED STATES LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY IN
THE CITY OF NEW YORK'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt.
63) AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED MOTION IN LIMINE TO
EXCLUDE TOXICOLOGY REPORT, OR ALTERNATELY, TO COMPEL
DISCOVERY (Dkt. 77)
A. GOLDSMITH, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant The United States
Life Insurance Company in the City of New York's motion
for summary judgment (Dkt. 63), and Plaintiff's motion in
limine to exclude toxicology report, or alternately, to
compel discovery (Dkt. 77). The issues have been fully
briefed, and a hearing was held on September 22, 2016.
Defendant seeks a ruling that an insurance contract was
formed between Plaintiff and Defendant, which included
exclusions for losses that were incurred as the result of
committing a crime or being intoxicated. Defendant also seeks
a ruling that a toxicology report proves that the exclusions
apply and relieves Defendant of its obligation to pay
benefits to Plaintiff. Plaintiff seeks to exclude the
toxicology report on the ground that Defendant has failed to
lay an adequate foundation for the report. In the
alternative, Plaintiff seeks an order from this Court
compelling Defendant to provide further information regarding
how the results contained within the report were reached. For
the reasons explained below, the Court grants in part and
denies in part Defendant's motion, and denies
and the decedent, her husband Peter Gueorguiev, received a
mortgage loan from CitiMortgage, a former defendant in this
case. Enrollment Form, Ex. E to Pl. Resp., at 1 (Dkt. 70-6).
As part of the mortgage, Plaintiff and the decedent were
offered the opportunity to purchase coverage under a policy
of group accidental death and dismemberment insurance that
was underwritten by Defendant. Id.
claims that the decedent purchased the policy and named
Plaintiff as the beneficiary, but a review of the enrollment
form for the policy demonstrates that it is unclear whether
both parties were the insureds and whether both parties are
beneficiaries. Id. Under the section entitled
“Enrollment Options, ” the form has the names of
both Plaintiff and the decedent printed. Id.
However, a line was drawn through Plaintiff's name, which
indicates that she would not be insured by the policy.
Id. Yet, under the section entitled
“Insured's Birth Date, ” there are two dates
listed, and under the section entitled “Beneficiary,
” both Plaintiff's and the decedent's names are
listed. Id. The decedent is the only person to have
signed the enrollment form dated December 27, 2006.
February 1, 2007, a cover letter and Certificate of Insurance
were sent to the decedent. Cover Letter, Ex. D to Pl. Resp.
(Dkt. 70-5). The letter stated that the Certificate of
Insurance for the policy that Plaintiff and the decedent
applied for was enclosed. Id. Plaintiff argues that
the enclosed document was a one-page document that lists the
certificate number, group policy number, effective date, the
participating association, and the schedule of benefits.
See Plaintiff's Purported Certificate of
Insurance, Ex. F. to Pl. Resp., at 1 (Dkt. 70-7). Defendant
contends that the enclosed document was a four-page document
that, among other things, sets forth the exclusions in the
policy. See Defendant's Purported Certificate of
Insurance, Ex. A. to Def. Reply, at 1 (Dkt. 73-2).
purported insurance policy provided by Defendant states that
benefits will be provided in the event of the accidental loss
of life. Insurance Policy, Ex. A to Def. Mot., at 13 (cm/ecf
page) (Dkt 63-2). The purported insurance policy includes a
section that states that “[i]f benefits are payable
under the Accidental Death section of this policy, United
States Life will pay the amount indicated in the Schedule of
Benefits for loss which results from a covered accident which
occurs while the insured person is driving . . . in a private
passenger car.” Id. The policy also contains
various exclusions, of which two are relevant here:
commission of a crime and intoxication. Specifically, the
policy provides that “no benefits will be paid for any
loss that results from or is caused directly, indirectly,
wholly or partly by . . . 5. Committing a crime, or an
attempt to do so . . . 6. Being intoxicated or under the
influence of any drug, unless taken as prescribed by a
between 11:30 p.m. on August 8, 2013 and 1:00 a.m. on August
9, 2013, the decedent was driving north on M-30 in Edenville
Township. Traffic Crash Report, Ex. C to Def. Mot., at 3
(cm/ecf page) (Dkt. 63-4). As the road began to curve to the
right, the decedent drove off the road. Id. The
decedent proceeded to drive through a fence and into an
unoccupied building. Id. The decedent was pronounced
dead at the scene by Dr. Dennis Wagner, the Midland County
medical examiner. Incident Report, Ex. D. to Def. Mot., at 5
(Dkt. 63-5). Among the items recovered from the
decedent's vehicle was an open bottle of Jack Daniels
whiskey. Property Receipts, Ex. G to Def. Mot., at 3 (cm/ecf
page) (Dkt. 63-8). At 3:08 a.m., Wagner took a blood sample
from the decedent. Blood Sample Collection Form, Ex. E to
Def. Mot., at 1 (cm/ecf page) (Dkt. 63-6). On August 16,
2013, Greta Gill, a forensic scientist with the Michigan
Department of State Police, conducted an analysis of the
blood taken by Wagner. Laboratory Report, Ex. F to Def. Mot.,
at 2 (cm/ecf page) (Dkt. 63-7). The analysis revealed that
the decedent had a blood alcohol level of 0.15. Id.
filed a claim with Defendant for the proceeds of the
insurance policy, see Claim Form, Ex. J to Def.
Mot., at 1 (Dkt. 63-11), which was denied. Letter from AIG
Benefits Solutions to Plaintiff's Counsel, Ex. K to Def.
Mot., at 3 (cm/ecf page) (Dkt. 63-12). Defendant noted that
Plaintiff's blood alcohol level was 0.15 at the time of
his death. Id. Defendant stated that, as a result,
policy exclusions five and six relieved Defendant of paying
benefits to Plaintiff because the decedent died as the result
of committing a crime and being intoxicated. Id.
Plaintiff appealed the denial of her claim. Letter from
Plaintiff's Counsel to AIG Benefits Solutions, Ex. L to
Def. Mot., at 2 (cm/ecf page) (Dkt. 63-13). In her letter of
appeal, Plaintiff theorized that the crash could have been
due to previous chest pain or that the analysis of the
decedent's blood was simply mistaken. Id. at 5.
Defendant subsequently denied Plaintiff's appeal.
Plaintiff then filed the instant action, alleging three
counts: breach of contract, negligence, and tortious
interference with a contract. Third Am. Compl. (Dkt. 24).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
must 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). “In making this determination, the
court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in
its favor.” U.S. S.E.C. v. Sierra Brokerage Servs.,
Inc., 712 F.3d 321, 327 (6th Cir. 2013). The court must
determine “whether the evidence presents 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). In considering the material facts
in the record, a court must recognize that “[t]he mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.” Id. at 422. In this case,
Defendant bears the burden of proving that any coverage under
the policy is negated by an exclusion. Monteleone v. The
Auto Club Grp., 113 F.Supp.3d 950, 959 (E.D. Mich.
2015). “Where the moving party has the burden . . . his
showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no
reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving
party.” Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d
254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) (citation and internal quotation
issues concerning Defendant's motion for summary judgment
and Plaintiff's motion in limine, especially as they
concern the admissibility of the toxicology report, are
intertwined. As a result, the motions will be analyzed