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Mramer v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

October 24, 2019

Matthew Mramer, Plaintiff,
v.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Defendant.

          ORDER ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Robert N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court are the Plaintiff Matthew Mramer's motion for partial summary judgment (ECF No. 23) and the Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.'s (“State Farm”) motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 28).

         1. Background

         This action arises out of an insurance dispute regarding whether Mramer can recover uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits under his mother's State Farm policy for injuries he sustained in a car accident on November 1, 2017. State Farm issued an automobile insurance policy to Kim Berliner, Mramer's mother. (ECF No. 22 at ¶ 2.) Her name is the first listed as an insured on the Declarations Page. (Id. at ¶ 3.) The policy provides benefits to the insured, Kim Berliner, and to her resident relatives. The policy defines resident relative as:

a person, other than you, who resides primarily with the first person shown as a named insured on the Declarations Page and who is:
(1) related to that named insured or his or her spouse by blood, marriage, or adoption, including an unmarried and unemancipated child of either who is away at school and otherwise maintains a primary residence with the named insured; or (2) a ward or a foster child of that named insured, his or her spouse or a person described in (1) above.

(Id. at ¶ 5.) Mramer sought benefits as a resident relative under the policy, and State Farm denied his claim. Mramer then filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. (Id. at ¶ 6.) The Complaint brings two counts: (1) a claim for declaratory relief and (2) a claim for unpaid insurance coverage under the State Farm policy. The Defendant later removed the case to this Court.

         Mramer graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2015. His mother, Kim Berliner, moved to Florida in 2011 and lived there with her son until he graduated. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 27.) In May of 2015 Kim Berliner moved back to Ohio, where she lived from May 2015 through the date of the accident on November 1, 2017. (ECF No. 22 at ¶ 14.) Mramer worked as an ESPN intern in Cleveland and lived with his mother in Ohio between August 2015 and January 2016. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 9.) Neither party specifies where Mramer lived from January 2016 until June 2016. From June 2016 through May 2017, Mramer lived in Orlando at an apartment that he had leased for one year. (ECF No. 22 at ¶ 12.) Starting in June 2017, Mramer lived in an apartment in Miami with a roommate. He had signed a one-year lease on the Miami apartment that would expire in on May 31, 2018. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Later, after the car accident on November 1, 2017, Mramer renewed his Miami apartment lease, which expired in March 2019. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

         In his deposition, Mramer testified that he would stay in Miami as long as he had employment and that he was looking for jobs in various cities including Charlotte, New York, and Cleveland. (ECF No. 32 at ¶ 37.) Between June 2016 and November 1, 2018, Mramer visited Ohio multiple times for several days to attend medical doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, and for the holidays. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 35.) Mramer maintains an Ohio drivers' license, an Ohio voter's registration, and his vehicle is registered in Ohio. (Id. at ¶ 29.)

         2. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, “summary judgment is appropriate where there ‘is no genuine issue as to any material fact' and the moving party is ‘entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Alabama v. North Carolina, 130 S.Ct. 2295, 2308 (2010) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). “The moving party bears the initial burden to show the district court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial . . . [o]nly when that burden has been met does the burden shift to the non-moving party to demonstrate that there is indeed a material issue of fact that precludes summary judgment.” Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). Rule 56(c) “requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the nonmoving party “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1984) (stating “[w]hen the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”).

         The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and summary judgment is inappropriate where a genuine issue material fact remains. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970). “An issue of fact is ‘material' if, under the applicable substantive law, it might affect the outcome of the case.” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259-60 (11th Cir.2004). “An issue of fact is ‘genuine' if the record taken as a whole could lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 1260. A court may not weigh conflicting evidence to resolve disputed factual issues; if a genuine dispute is found, summary judgment must be denied. Skop v. City of Atlanta, Ga., 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir. 2007).

         3. Choice of Law

         In a diversity action, the federal court must apply the choice-of-law rules of the forum state. La Farge Corp. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 118 F.3d 1511, 1515 (11th Cir. 1997). “Generally, Florida enforces choice-of-law provisions unless the law of the chosen forum contravenes strong public policy.” Mazzoni Farms, Inc. v. E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co., 761 So.2d 306, 311 (Fla. 2000). “Courts should proceed with extreme caution when called upon to declare transactions as contrary to public policy.” Id. at 311. To enforce the provision on this ground, “the countervailing public policy must be sufficiently important that it outweighs the policy protecting freedom of contract.” Id. at 312; see also, Southeast Floating Docks, Inc. v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 82 So.3d 73, 80 (Fla. 2012) (“[a]n agreement between parties to be bound by the substantive laws of another jurisdiction is presumptively valid”). No. such public policy concerns have been raised here, nor do any exist that are strong enough to ...


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