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Great West Casualty Co. v. Lakeville Motor Express, Inc.

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 21, 2014

GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKEVILLE MOTOR EXPRESS, INC., et al., Defendants.

ENTRY ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

William T. Lawrence, Judge

This cause is before the Court on the various motions for summary judgment filed by the parties. The motions are fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, rules as follows:

- The motion of Defendant Pamela K. Robbins, as Administratrix of the Estate of Mike Douglas Robbins, Deceased (dkt. no. 148) is DENIED;

- The motion of Defendant Continental Western Insurance Company (“Continental”) (dkt. no. 147) is DENIED;[1]

- The motion of Plaintiff Great West Casualty Company (“Great West”) (dkt. no. 152) is GRANTED; and

- The motion of Defendant Wren Equipment, LLC (“Wren”) (dkt. no. 158) is GRANTED.[2]

The Court’s reasoning is set forth below.

I. STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts as true the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant’s favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. BACKGROUND

On January 4, 2011, in Richmond, Indiana, Mike Douglas Robbins was fatally injured when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by Linda K. Phillips. At the time of the accident, Phillips was driving the tractor-trailer in the course and scope of her employment with Hoker Trucking, LLC (“Hoker”). The Peterbuilt tractor involved in the accident was owned by Hoker, and the Wabash National trailer being pulled by the tractor was owned by Wren. As of July 1, 2001, however, Wren, an equipment leasing company, had leased the trailer to Lakeville Motor Express, Inc. (“Lakeville”). Lakeville, in turn, leased the trailer to Hoker on August 21, 2006, pursuant to a Trailer Interchange Agreement.

Prior to that, Great West issued a Commercial Lines Insurance Policy to Lakeville (the “Policy”). The Policy provided commercial automobile liability coverage to Lakeville between September 1, 2010, and September 1, 2011.[3]

After the accident, Pamela K. Robbins, as administratrix of Mr. Robbins’ estate, filed a negligence suit against Hoker, Phillips, and Lakeville in state court. Lakeville was subsequently dismissed from the lawsuit. This declaratory judgment suit brought by Lakeville’s insurer, Great West, followed.

Interestingly, this case is not about Lakeville’s coverage under the Policy. Rather, Great West is seeking a declaration from the Court that:

• Hoker and Phillips are not “insureds” under the Great West Policy; therefore, the Great West Policy does not provide any coverage to Hoker or Phillips for the Accident.
• Great West is not liable to defend or indemnify Hoker or Phillips for any judgment that may be entered against either of them in the underlying lawsuit.
• Great West is entitled to recover the costs of [its] declaratory judgment action and all other appropriate relief.

Great West’s Br. at 2, Dkt. No. 153. Mrs. Robbins disagrees and strongly insists that Hoker and Phillips are “insureds” under Lakeville’s Policy with Great West. Thus, according to Mrs. Robbins, Great West is required to defend and/or indemnify Hoker and Phillips in relation to the underlying state court action.[4]

The Policy defines an insured as follows:

A. COVERAGE

1. WHO IS AN INSURED

The following are “insureds”:

a. You for any covered “auto.”[5]
b. Anyone else while using with your permission a covered “auto” you own, hire or borrow except:
(1) The owner or anyone else from whom you hire or borrow a covered “private passenger type” “auto.”
(2) Your “employee” or agent if the covered “auto” is a “private passenger type” “auto” and is owned by that “employee” or agent or a member of his or her household.
(3) Someone using a covered “auto” while he or she is working in a business of selling, servicing, repairing, parking or storing ...

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