Does an insurance company making a partial payment of a claim mean that they are responsible for the claim. The answer to this question and a couple of other questions was answered by the United States 5th Circuit in the April 2020, opinion styled, Sandford T. Pulley v. Safeco Insurance Company of America.
Safeco was the insurer for Pulley on some property he owed. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Safeco and this appeal followed.
Pulley argues that summary judgment for Safeco was improper because, in Pulley’s view, by initially sending him a check in response to his insurance claim, Safeco conceded liability. Since the check was insufficient to offset his repair costs, Pulley argues that the only remaining issue in the case is the amount of damages. Pulley cites neither the terms of the policy nor any legal authority for the proposition that Safeco’s partial payment of his claim is an admission of liability. As a result, and because Pulley fails to address the District Court’s basis for dismissing his claims, the summary judgment was affirmed.
Pulley also argues that the District Court erred by, earlier in the litigation, denying his motion for leave to file a fourth amended complaint. Although his briefing is not entirely clear, Pulley seems to argue that this denial somehow affected his case against Safeco. But the proposed fourth amended complaint and the operative third amended complaint both stated identical claims with respect to Safeco. As Pulley told the District Court, the purpose of his fourth amended complaint was to add an additional defendant to the case. In denying the motion, the District Court explained that Pulley could pursue all his claims “in the context of his current pleadings.” Pulley did so, and his claims against Safeco were subsequently rejected on the merits.