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Periodontal Associates of Memphis, P.C. v. Peerless Indemnity Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

September 18, 2017

PERIODONTAL ASSOCIATES OF MEMPHIS, P.C., Plaintiff,
v.
PEERLESS INDEMNITY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are three motions. The first is Defendant Peerless Indemnity Insurance Company's (“Peerless”) Motion to Bifurcate Claims and Stay Discovery with Respect to Plaintiff's Claim for Bad Faith, filed on February 28, 2017. (ECF No. 22.) Plaintiff Periodontal Associates of Memphis, P.C. (“Periodontal”) filed a response in opposition on March 14, 2017. (ECF No. 24.)

         The second motion is Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed on March 23, 2017. (ECF No. 25.) Defendant filed its response in opposition on April 6, 2017. (ECF No. 26.)

         The third motion is Plaintiff's First Motion to Extend Scheduling Order Deadline and Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint to Restore Liberty Mutual as a Party, filed April 13, 2017. (ECF No. 27.) Defendant filed a response in opposition on April 26, 2017. (ECF No. 28.)

         For the reasons below, Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate Claims and Stay Discovery with Respect to Plaintiff's Claim for Bad Faith (ECF No. 22) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part; Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25) is GRANTED; and Plaintiff's First Motion to Extend Scheduling Order Deadline and Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint to Restore Liberty Mutual as a Party (ECF No. 27) is RESERVED pending filing of Plaintiff's proposed amendment.

         I. Background

         This action arises from a commercial insurance coverage dispute between Plaintiff and Defendant. (See Amend. Compl., ECF No. 8; Order, ECF No. 23.) Plaintiff seeks to recover damages for losses it incurred to its computer hard drives in December 2014 under Policy No. BOP8552307 (the “Policy”), effective from November 19, 2014 to November 19, 2015. (ECF No. 8 ¶¶ 7, 9B.) Plaintiff alleges that the Policy covers direct, accidental physical damage to the equipment. (Id. ¶¶ 9E-9E[1].) Defendant denies Plaintiff's claim. It has concluded that the damage was attributable to normal wear and tear or degradation, which is not covered by the Policy. (Id. ¶¶ 9F-9G, 9T.) Both parties have retained experts who have inspected the hard drives at issue and reached different conclusions about whether the hard drives sustained direct physical damage. (Id. ¶¶ 9K-9L, 9O.) Defendant continues to deny that the claim is covered. (Id. ¶¶ 9S-9V.)

         Plaintiff originally brought suit against Liberty Mutual Group d/b/a/ Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”) on September 20, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff amended its Complaint as of right on October 25, 2016, to include a punitive damage claim. (ECF No. 8.)

         The Court held a scheduling conference on February 13, 2017 (Min. Entry, ECF No. 18) and entered a Scheduling Order the next day (ECF No. 20). The Scheduling Order establishes the following pertinent deadlines:

JOINING PARTIES: for Plaintiff: March 13, 2017
for Defendant: March 27, 2017
AMENDING PLEADINGS: for Plaintiff: April 3, 2017
for Defendant: April 17, 2017

(Id. at 190.)[2]

         On February 28, 2017, Liberty Mutual filed an Unopposed Motion to Substitute Named Defendant. (ECF No. 21.) Liberty Mutual represented that Plaintiff had agreed that Peerless should be substituted as the defendant in this action and that Liberty Mutual should be dismissed without prejudice. (Id. at 193.) The Court granted the unopposed motion on March 1, 2017. (ECF No. 23.)

         Also on February 28, 2017, Peerless filed a Motion to Bifurcate Claims and Stay Discovery with Respect to Plaintiff's Claim for Bad Faith. (ECF No. 196.) Plaintiff opposed bifurcation and stay on March 14, 2017. (ECF No. 24.)

         On March 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 25.) Defendant opposed the amendment on April 6, 2017. (ECF No. 26.)

         On April 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a First Motion to Extend Scheduling Order Deadline and Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Amended Complaint to Restore Liberty Mutual as a Party. (ECF No. 27.) Defendant opposed the amendment and extension on April 26, 2017. (ECF No. 28.)

         On August 21, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issue of coverage. (ECF No. 41.)

         II. Jurisdiction & ...


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