Witness’s “Understandings” and Belief She Was “Deceived” Are Too Conclusory to Defeat Summary Judgment

Orange Cup Drive In LLC v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co.
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-21-00448-CV (January 5, 2023)
Justices Nowell, Smith, and Rosenberg (opinion available here)
Orange Cup Drive In lost summary judgment on its contractual coverage claims against Mid-Continent Casualty Company. Undeterred, Orange Cup tried to pursue extra-contractual claims, alleging that the insurance company took advantage of Orange Cup’s lack of expertise to misrepresent that Orange Cup had more insurance coverage than it did. The insurance company moved for summary judgment on these claims as well, and the motion was granted.

On appeal, Orange Cup argued the trial court erred in disregarding the affidavits of one of its principals, Shanta Barua, regarding her understandings and beliefs regarding the insurance coverage purchased by Orange Cup. Barua had conducted all of the negotiations with the insurance company, and she stated in her affidavit that she “understood” and “was under the impression” that the policy would cover third-party claims against Orange Cup. She further stated the insurance company “deceive[d] me into believing that I obtained third party liability coverage for [Orange Cup].”

The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to disregard these statements because, without any explanation of how Barua was allegedly misled or how she came to her alleged understanding about the policy, her statements were “conclusions unsupported by any factual detail” and were not admissible. In the absence of any other evidence to support Orange Cup’s fraud and other extra-contractual claims, summary judgment was appropriate.
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