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CINCINNATI INSURANCE COMPANY v. ALLEN

December 8, 2004.

CINCINNATI INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY ALLEN and SEAN, BLANKENSHIP, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL McCUSKEY, District Judge

ORDER

This case is before the court for ruling on cross motions for judgment on the pleadings. Following this court's careful review of the documents submitted by the parties and the arguments of the parties, this court rules as follows: (1) Defendant Timothy Allen's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#5) is DENIED; and (2) Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#9) is GRANTED.

  FACTS

  On October 22, 2004, Plaint iff, Cincinnati Insurance Company, filed its Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (#1) against Defendants, Timothy Allen and Sean Blankenship. This court's jurisdiction is based upon diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff alleged that it is an Ohio corporation with its principal place of business in Ohio. Plaintiff also alleged that it issued a Homeowner's Policy and Umbrella Policy to Defendant Allen, a citizen of Illinois. Plaintiff further alleged that Defendant Blankenship, also a citizen of Illinois, filed a Complaint against Allen in the circuit court of Macon County. Plaintiff sought a declaration from this court that it has no coverage obligation under the policies it issued to Allen, including to defend, indemnify, or reimburse Allen, with respect to the underlying lawsuit filed by Blankenship.

  Plaintiff at tached a copy of the underlying Complaint at Law for Battery filed by Blankenship. In his Complaint, Blankenship alleged that, on November 15, 2003, he was in Oreana, Illinois, and was sitting in his vehicle in the driveway of a neighbor of Allen, speaking with Allen's wife, Kathy Allen, and other individuals. Blankenship further alleged that Allen approached him and, through the open door of the vehicle, reached in and slapped Blankenship. Blankenship also alleged that Allen then pushed his wife back towards their residence. Blankenship alleged that he exited his vehicle and Allen punched and struck him, causing him to fall and strike his head on the driveway, resulting in a significant brain injury. Blankenship alleged that Allen's conduct was a direct and proximate cause of his injury and constituted a willful and wanton battery upon him. Blankenship alleged that he has been permanently injured and disabled and has suffered significant damages, including lost earnings. In his Complaint, Blankenship sought compensatory and exemplary damages from Allen.

  Plaintiff also attached a copy of the Homeowner's Policy and Umbrella Policy it had issued to Allen. Both policies provided that Plaintiff would pay damages for "bodily injury" arising out of an "occurrence." The policies also both defined an "occurrence" as an "accident" which resulted in bodily injury. The Homeowner's policy specifically excluded coverage for "bodily injury" which "may reasonably be expected to result from the intentional or criminal acts of one or more `insureds' or which is in fact expected or intended by one or more `insureds', even if the injury or damage is of a different degree or type than actually expected or intended." The policy stated that this exclusion did not apply when the "bodily injury" resulted from "the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property." The Umbrella Policy provided coverage for damages in excess of the coverage provided by the underlying Homeowner's Policy or for damages excluded or not covered by the Homeowner's Policy. However, the Umbrella Policy included substantially identical provisions excluding expected or intended acts unless resulting from the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property.

  On November 5, 2004, Allen filed his Answer to Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (#4). Allen attached a copy of his Answer to Blankenship's Complaint against him in which he alleged, as an affirmative defense, that he struck Blankenship "only as a matter of self-defense after first being struck in the face by Sean Blankenship." In addition, on November 5, 2004, Allen filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#5). Allen argued that, under the terms of his policy, Plaintiff has a duty to defend him in the underlying lawsuit filed by Blankenship.

  On November 19, 2004, Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#9) and a Memorandum (#10) in support of its Motion and in opposition to Allen's Motion. Plaintiff argued that Allen's Motion should be denied and its Cross-Motion should be granted because the allegations in the underlying Blankenship case do not fall within the coverage of the policies because they do not allege an "occurrence" and because they are excluded by the intentional acts exclusion of the policies.

  Allen filed his Response to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion (#13) on December 1, 2004. Allen stated that the pleadings in the underlying case have evoked the "self-defense" exception to the intentional acts exclusion. Allen therefore contended that Plaintiff has the duty to defend him in the Blankenship lawsuit. Defendant Blankenship has not filed an answer in this case or any response to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

  On December 7, 2004, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File Reply in Opposition to Allen's Response to [Plaintiff's] Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (#14). This court allowed the Motion and Plaintiff's Reply (#15) was filed in this court.

  ANALYSIS

  I. STANDARD FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

  After the close of pleadings, a party may file a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to attempt to dispose of the case on the basis of the underlying substantive merits. See Alexander v. City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333, 336 (7th Cir. 1993); Crowley v. McKinney, 2002 WL 31101287, at *1 (N.D. Ill. 2002). The appropriate standard for such a motion is that applicable to summary judgment, except that the court may consider only the contents of the pleadings. See Alexander, 994 F.2d at 336; Ohio Cas. Ins. Co. v. PetsMart, Inc., 2003 WL 22995160, at *2 (N.D. Ill. 2003). Judgment on the pleadings is proper where the pleadings raise only questions of law and no questions of material fact. Utica Mut. Ins. Co. v. David Agency Ins., Inc., 327 F. Supp. 2d 922, 926 (N.D. Ill. 2004). A Rule 12(c) motion should not be granted unless no genuine issues of material fact remain to be resolved and unless the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Alexander, 994 F.2d at 336; Memisovski v. Maram, 2004 WL 1878332, at *2 n. 3 (N.D. Ill. 2004); Fid. & Guar. Life Ins. Co. v. Payne, 2003 WL 22143249, at *2 (N.D. Ill. 2003). In ...


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