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VDV Properties, LLC v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 9, 2019

VDV PROPERTIES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.

          Anthony P. Patti Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING STATE FARM'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [8]

          LAURIE J. MICHELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Not long after Simonas Kiseliovas purchased a beautiful old home in Detroit, the residence was damaged in a suspicious fire. The insurer, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, refused to pay for the damage. So Kiseliovas sued. A jury found that Kiseliovas was not entitled to insurance proceeds.

         This case is a sequel to that one. Now the company that Kiseliovas had mortgaged the Detroit property to, VDV Properties, LLC, wants to recover insurance proceeds from State Farm. (See ECF No. 15, PageID.157-160; ECF No. 1, PageID.7-9.) State Farm seeks summary judgment. The Court will treat State Farm's motion as unopposed and grant it.

         I.

         The Court briefly summarizes the first case, then the second.

         A.

         On April 28, 2015, a fire damaged a home located on Muirland Street in Detroit, Michigan. Prior to the fire, Simonas Kiseliovas had insured the Muirland property via a homeowner's insurance policy from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company. State Farm refused to pay for the fire damage. So, in March 2016, Kiseliovas filed a lawsuit. Late in that litigation, VDV Properties, which was the mortgagee of the Muriland property, sought to intervene. That request was denied in part because it was late in the day and in part because VDV's owner and operator, Viktoriya Bereshnaya, had thwarted attempts to have her deposition taken. So the case proceeded to trial without VDV.

         In May 2018, a jury found that Kiseliovas had “intentionally set or arranged for the setting of the April 28, 2015 fire at the property located 1814 Muirland Street, Detroit, Michigan” or, at least, that “he had a guilty connection to the setting of the fire[.]” See Verdict Form, ECF No. 40, Kiseliovas v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, No. 16-10823 (E.D. Mich. May 11, 2018).

         B.

         Shortly after the jury verdict, in July 2018, VDV filed this lawsuit in state court. After State Farm removed the case to federal court, it was assigned to United States District Judge Sean F. Cox.

         On February 11, 2019, State Farm moved for summary judgment. VDV did not respond within the 21-day period set by both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this District's local rules. So on March 14, 2019, Judge Cox ordered VDV “TO SHOW CAUSE, in writing, no later than March 21, 2019 why the unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment should not be granted.” (ECF No. 10, PageID.146.)

         The next day, March 15, 2019, VDV responded to the show-cause order. VDV explained that it planned to depose the State Farm agent who wrote the policy, but the date of his deposition turned out to be the “worst winter storm of the season with reported whiteout conditions.” (ECF No. 11, PageID.148.) So counsel agreed to postpone the agent's deposition to April 4, 2019. (See id.) VDV further stated that it believed that it needed “the records and testimony of the insurance agent in order to defeat [State Farm's] motion for summary disposition.” (Id.) VDV stated that “[d]ays” before receiving Judge Cox's show-cause order, it had contacted State Farm about allowing it to file its summary-judgment response after the agent's deposition. (Id.) Notably, VDV did not state in the show-cause response that State Farm agreed to this request. VDV's show-cause response ended by asking Judge Cox to allow it to file a summary-judgment response 10 days after the April 4 deposition. (Id.)

         A few days after VDV filed its show-cause response, on March 19, 2019, this case was reassigned to the undersigned. (The undersigned had presided over the ...


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