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American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Fox

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

May 10, 2017

AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DARIN FOX, MATTHEW JOSEPH MYERS, and ESTATE OF CHAD E. ANDERSON, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff, American Family Mutual Insurance Company (“American Family”). (Filing No. 43.) American Family filed the instant Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, asserting that it owes no duty to defend or indemnify Defendants' Darin Fox (“Fox”) or Matthew Joseph Myers (“Myers”) for the claims asserted by the Estate of Chad Anderson (“the Estate”). Fox, Myers, and the Estate of Chad E. Anderson oppose the Motion. (Filing No. 52.) For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the following facts are presented in the light most favorable to Defendants as the non-moving parties. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         American Family issued a Family Car Policy of insurance to Fox, policy number 0779-5936-10-09-FPPA-IN (“the Policy”), which was effective between January 3, 2013, and July 3, 2013. (Filing No. 43-3 at 2.) The Policy provided coverage for “compensatory damages an insured person is legally liable for because of bodily injury and property damage due to the use of a car or utility trailer” and obligates American Family to “defend any suit or settle any claim for damages payable under this policy as [it] think[s] proper.” (Filing No. 43-3 at 4.) Fox declared only his 2007 Ford F150 as a primary vehicle to be insured under the Policy. (Filing No. 43-3 at 2.)

         On April 16, 2013, Fox purchased a 2012 E-Z Go Express l6 golf cart (“the Golf Cart”) for use as a farm vehicle. (Filing No. 43-15 at 14, 26.) Fox paid $8, 560.00 by check for the Golf Cart. (Filing No. 43-15 at 26.) Fox did not inform American Family of his purchase of the Golf Cart and did not otherwise register, license, or title the Golf Cart. (Filing No. 43-15 at 12, 23.)

         Within days of purchasing the Golf Cart, Fox allowed Myers to borrow it for a party Myers was hosting on April 20, 2013, in connection with the Thunder Over Louisville event[1]. (Filing No. 43-15 at 16-17; Filing No. 43-16 at 6.) Specifically, Myers wished to use the Golf Cart on April 20, 2013, to transport guests to the Thunder Over Louisville party at his home. (Filing No. 43-15 at 5, 20-21; Filing No. 43-16 at 6.) Myers also intended to bring people from his house and to go down closer to the fireworks at night once the fireworks began. Myers and Fox had been friends since 1997 but were not related to one another and had never lived together. (Filing No. 43-15 at 4-6, 23.)

         On April 19, 2013, Fox delivered the Golf Cart to Myers' home for the Thunder Over Louisville party. (Filing No. 43-15 at 5; Filing No. 43-16 at 6.) Later that day, Chad E. Anderson (“Anderson”) came to Myers' home and the two consumed multiple alcoholic beverages. (Filing No. 43-16 at 7-8.) After having multiple drinks, Myers and Anderson decided to go to the Levy Bar with Nick Thornsbery (“Thornsbery”). (Filing No. 43-16 at 9.) Myers drove the Golf Cart from his home to the Levy Bar approximately one and a half miles away, with Anderson and Thornsbery as his passengers. (Filing No. 43-16 at 9-12.)

         After spending some time at the Levy Bar and consuming a few more alcoholic drinks, Myers drove the Golf Cart with Anderson and Thornsbery as passengers, to Third Base Tavern, which was roughly three or four blocks from the Levy Bar. (Filing No. 43-16 at 12-13.) Myers admitted that he felt intoxicated while at Third Base Tavern. (Filing No. 43-16 at 13.) Although Myers stated that he only had vague memories of being at the tavern, he recalled that Thornsbery left Third Base Tavern before he and Anderson because Thornsbery had broken his glasses. (Filing No. 43-16 at 14.)

         Myers and Anderson left Third Base Tavern near 12:30 a.m. on April 20, 2013. (Filing No. 43-16 at 14-15, 35.) Although he does not remember leaving, Myers drove the Golf Cart from Third Base Tavern with Anderson as his passenger. (Filing No. 43-16 at 14-15, 35-38.) When driving away from Third Base Tavern, Myers crashed the Golf Cart at approximately 12:33 a.m., causing Anderson to be ejected from the Golf Cart and to strike his head on the corner of a nearby building (“the Accident”). (Filing No. 43-16 at 35-38; Filing No. 43-18 at 5.) Tragically, Anderson died later that morning as a result of the Accident. (Filing No. 43-18 at 5; Filing No. 43-25 at 2.)

         On April 24, 2013, Myers was charged with multiple criminal counts related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing Anderson's death. (Filing No. 43-5 at 1.) Myers pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges on May 27, 2014, as a result of the Accident. (Filing No. 43-6 at 1.) On March 30, 2015, the Estate filed a lawsuit against Myers, Fox, and other individuals associated with Third Base Tavern in Clark County, Indiana Circuit Court, under Cause No. 10C04-1503-CT-040, for damages sustained from the Accident. (Filing No. 43-7.) In light of the Estate's lawsuit in Indiana state court, American Family initiated this action, seeking declaratory judgment that the Policy does not cover the Accident and that American Family is not obligated to defend, indemnify, or provide liability coverage for either Myers or Fox in connection with the Estate's lawsuit. (Filing No. 1.)

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[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.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox Cty. Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).

         “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co.,242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion ...


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