Houchens v. American Home Assurance Co.
927 F.2d 163 (4th Cir. 1991)
Yeazell, pp. 43-47
Facts: Houchensís husband disappeared in
Procedural Posture: AHA got summary judgment from the district court.† Houchens appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
Issue: Did the district court err in granting summary judgment to AHA?
Rule: Summary judgment shall be granted after discovery against a party that fails to show they could establish some essential element of their case which they have the burden to prove at trial.
Analysis: At trial, the burden would be on Mrs. Houchens to prove that Mr. Houchens is dead and that his death was an accident.
The court concedes that under
Mrs. Houchens relies on three cases where people died under bizarre circumstances and were ruled dead by accident.† The court distinguishes these cases by saying that there were no bizarre circumstances surrounding Mr. Houchensís death.† In fact, there were no circumstances at all.† Therefore, the court says that they cannot conclude that Mr. Houchens died accidentally.† In fact, they say no jury could reasonably conclude he died accidentally.
Conclusion: The order of summary judgment of the district court is affirmed.