Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Meat Town v. Sentinel Insurance Co., Ltd

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

October 24, 2019

MEAT TOWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SENTINEL INSURANCE COMPANY, LTD, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [31]

          LAURIE J. MICHELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This Court does not take the decision to grant or deny summary judgment lightly. And that is especially true in a case like this, where the defendant's basis for summary judgment is that the plaintiff lied. So this Court carefully reviewed the summary-judgment record. In fact, it read the affidavit from Meat Town's manager, Alan Gluck, several times. Despite a careful review of the record, the Court did not identify evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find that Meat Town did not intentionally or recklessly make material misrepresentations to its insurer, Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd.

         Meat Town says look again. Pursuant to Federal Rule 59, Federal Rule 60, and Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(h), Meat Town has filed a motion asking this Court to reconsider its grant of summary judgment to Sentinel. (ECF No. 31.) Because Meat Town's motion does not show that this Court clearly erred based on the materials it had before it at summary judgment, Meat Town's motion will be denied.

         I.

         Meat Town operated on Lahser Road in Detroit for 20 years. As the store's name suggests, Meat Town stored and sold large quantities of meat.

         In the fall of 2015, Meat Town was having some financial difficulties. At the start of August, September, October, and November 2015, Meat Town's bank account balance was $450, $1, 914, -$870, and -$570, respectively. In September 2015, a state court entered a judgment of possession in favor of Meat Town's landlord because Meat Town owed $12, 000 in rent. And Meat Town owed the electric company at least $3, 000 by November 2015. Meat Town suggests that it did not pay the electric company due to inadvertence, but whether due to inadvertence or the financial inability to pay, the electric company shut off power to Meat Town on November 10, 2015.

         That very day, Meat Town was robbed and vandalized.

         Meat Town later submitted a claim to its insurer, Sentinel Insurance Company. In addition to damaged equipment (including ceiling-mounted refrigerator coils that would have been difficult for vandals to reach), Meat Town claimed that $52, 000 worth of meat and related products were “covered with glass and debris” (and thus unsalable). (ECF No. 15, PageID.218.) Meat Town also claimed that $63, 000 worth of meat and related products were “stolen by perpetrators.” (ECF No. 15, PageID.218.) The “net claim” amount was $307, 815. (Id.)

         Sentinel did not immediately pay or expressly deny the claim, and with the two-year period to sue over an unpaid claim approaching, Meat Town filed this lawsuit.

         Sentinel sought summary judgment, which this Court granted. See generally Meat Town v. Sentinel Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 17-13801, 2019 WL 3958273 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 22, 2019). To be more precise, this Court found that Meat Town either intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth made two sets of material misrepresentations in the “Summary of Loss” it submitted to Sentinel. One set involved products that Meat Town said it bought from Kap's Wholesale. See Id. at *2-4. The other set involved products that Meat Town said it bought from Quality Meats & Culinary Specialties. See Id. at *4-6. Due to these misrepresentations, the Court found that Sentinel could void the insurance policy that it had issued to Meat Town. See Id. at *6. The Court thus did not address other alleged misrepresentations or Sentinel's other two legal theories for summary judgment.

         Meat Town now asks this Court to reconsider its decision.

         II.

         As an initial matter, the Court addresses Meat Town's suggestion that this Court misunderstood or misapplied the standard governing motions for summary judgment. Meat Town seems to suggest that if a question is one of fact, and if the non-moving party disputes the answer to that question, then a jury must answer the question. For example, Meat Town says, “the Court's finding that Meat Town made [false representations about Kap's products] with the intent to deceive Sentinel is in error, because Meat Town disputed this point, and intent is always a question of fact for the jury.” (ECF No. 31, PageID.1641 (emphasis omitted).)

         But just because a party disputes a question of fact does not mean that there is a genuine dispute over a question of fact. For there to be a genuine dispute warranting a trial, a party must put forth enough evidence for a reasonable jury to answer the question in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (“The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”). So it is not sufficient for a party to simply dispute a question of fact as Meat Town suggests. Instead, once the moving party has put forth evidence that would convince all reasonable juries to answer a fact question in its favor, the non-moving party must put forth evidence that would permit at least one reasonable jury to answer in its favor. See Id. at 251 (“Nor are judges any longer required to submit a question to a jury merely because some evidence has been introduced by the party having the burden of proof, unless the evidence be of such a character that it would warrant the jury in finding a verdict in favor of that party.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         The Court thus turns to Meat Town's more specific claims of error.

         III.

         Meat Town asks this Court to reconsider its ruling on intent. In granting summary judgment to Sentinel, this Court found that every reasonable jury would find that Meat Town intentionally or recklessly misrepresented to Sentinel that products sourced from Kap's Wholesale were damaged in the robbery. See Meat Town, 2019 WL 3958273, at *2-4. The Court further found that every reasonable jury would find that Meat Town intentionally or recklessly misrepresented the purchase date of products sourced from Quality Meats & Culinary Specialties. See Id. at *4-6. Meat Town now argues that this Court should not have granted Sentinel's motion because a reasonable jury could have found that any misrepresentations it made about goods from Kap's or Quality Meats were not intentional. (See ECF No. 31, PageID.1647-1652.)

         To better understand Meat Town's argument about intent, a brief recap of the summary-judgment opinion is helpful. As explained there, the summary of loss that Meat Town submitted to Sentinel included six lists drafted by either Meat Town or the damage-assessment company that Meat Town hired. Each list corresponded to an area of the store, e.g., the north freezer. In fact, the cover page of the summary of loss submitted to Sentinel referenced these lists: “replace destroyed food in and around display coolers and display freezers covered with glass and debris as itemized by area." (ECF No. 15, PageID.218 (emphasis added).) Here is one of the lists (the yellow highlighting added by the parties, the red ovals added by the Court):

         (Image Omitted)

         (ECF No. 15, PageID.263.) As pictured, Meat Town represented (for example) that in the north freezer 53 cases of loin back rib purchased from Kap's were "covered with glass" following the robbery; as also pictured, Meat Town associated Invoice 571917 with the 53 cases; and while not pictured, Meat Town attached Invoice 571917 to the summary of loss. On the east-counter list, Meat Town included 110 pounds (about three cases) of loin back rib from Kap's; in support, Meat Town again identified and attached Kap's Invoice 571917. (ECF No. 15, PageID.239-240.) The summary of loss also stated that 130 cases of loin back rib purchased from Kap's had been stolen; and again, Meat Town pointed to Invoice 571917. Notably, Invoice ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.