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American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. McCowan

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 30, 2018

AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DUSTIN McCOWAN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES T. MOODY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the court on Defendant Joseph McCowan's motion to certify a question of state law to the Indiana Supreme Court. (DE # 60.) Defendants William and Sandra Bach (the “Bachs”) join McCowan's motion and provide their own response in support of the motion to certify. (DE # 63.) Plaintiff American Family Mutual Insurance Company (“American Family”) opposes the motion. (DE # 62.) For the reasons stated below, the motion to certify will be granted and this court will certify a question to the Indiana Supreme Court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         The Bachs were the parents of Amanda Bach. Amanda died on September 16, 2011, as a result of a gunshot wound. (DE ## 12 at 3, 46-5 at 2.) On February 26, 2013, Defendant Dustin McCowan was convicted of the murder of Amanda. (DE # 46-3.)

         On March 28, 2013, the Bachs filed a lawsuit against Dustin and his father, Defendant Joseph McCowan, in the Porter County Superior Court. (DE # 46-5.) In the lawsuit, the Bachs allege that Dustin McCowan negligently, carelessly, recklessly, and/or intentionally shot Amanda Bach. (Id. at 3.) They also allege Joseph McCowan negligently failed to secure his firearms, one of which was used to shoot Amanda Bach. (Id. at 4.)

         At the time of Amanda's death, Dustin resided at the household of his parents:

         Amy and Joseph McCowan. (DE # 46-7 at 6.) American Family issued a homeowners policy of insurance (the “Policy”) to Amy and Joseph McCowan for their residence in Valparaiso, Indiana. (DE # 46-1.) The Policy was in force on the date of the Amanda's death. (Id.) Notably, the Policy-written by American Family-contains certain exclusions from liability coverage:

Coverage D- Personal Liability and Coverage E- Medical Expense do not apply to:
10. Intentional Injury. We will not cover bodily injury or property damage caused intentionally by or at the direction of any insured even if the actual bodily injury or property damage is different than that which was expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured.
* * * 17. Violation of Law. We will not cover bodily injury or property damage arising out of . . . violation of any criminal law for which any insured is convicted.

(DE # 46-1 at 14.)

         On February 14, 2014, American Family filed a complaint against Dustin McCowan, Joseph McCowan, and the Bachs in this court. (DE # 1.) American Family seeks a declaratory judgment stating, in essence, that it has no obligations under the Policy as to the actions of Dustin and Joseph McCowan which are the subject of the lawsuit filed by the Bachs. (See id.)

         B. ...


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