The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Webber Wright United States District Judge
Plaintiff Dorean Scott ("Scott"), individually and as administratrix of her son's estate, brings this action against Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") seeking underinsured motorist ("UIM") benefits. Before the Court is Allstate's motion for partial summary judgment (docket entry #20). Scott has filed a response (docket entry #23), and Allstate has filed a reply (docket entry #29). After careful consideration, and for the reasons that follow, Allstate's motion will be granted.
On August 5, 2004, Scott commenced this action in state court seeking $100,000 in UIM benefits. Scott also seeks punitive damages, claiming that Allstate denied her claim in bad faith.
In support of its motion for partial summary judgment, Allstate contends that there are no genuine issues for trial with regard to Scott's claim that Allstate refused her claim in bad faith.
Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). As a prerequisite to summary judgment, a moving party must demonstrate "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the moving party has properly supported its motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must "do more than simply show there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The non-moving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials of his pleading but must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
The Supreme Court of Arkansas*fn1 has stated that "an insurance company commits the tort of bad faith when it affirmatively engages in dishonest, malicious, or oppressive conduct in order to avoid a just obligation to its insured. . . . . Mere negligence or bad judgment is insufficient so long as the insurer is acting in good faith." State Auto Property and Cas. Ins. Co. v. Swaim, 338 Ark. 49, 56, 991 S.W.2d 555, 559 (1999).
Allstate asserts that Scott is unable to establish that it engaged in dishonest, malicious, or oppressive conduct in denying her claim. Scott argues that Allstate failed to exercise due care and diligence and investigating her claim. According to Scott, "inadequate investigation, inadequate evaluation of the claim and inadequate consideration of the insured's interest are three devices for proving bad faith." Docket entry #23, at 2.
Scott is mistaken. Under Arkansas law, "mere failure to investigate a claim is not the sort of affirmative misconduct that gives rise to a cause of action in tort for bad faith." Reynolds v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., 313 Ark. 145, 148, 852 S.W.2d 799, 801 (1993). The record contains no evidence that Allstate engaged in dishonest, malicious, or oppressive conduct. The Court concludes that no genuine issues exist regarding Scott's bad faith claim.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Allstate Insurance Company's motion for partial summary judgment (docket entry #20) is GRANTED. Plaintiffs' claim that Allstate denied her claim in bad faith is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Plaintiff's breach of contract claim remains.