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Grinnell Select Insurance Co. v. Glodo

October 2, 2009

GRINNELL SELECT INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRIA GLODO AND LARRY KEOWN, DEFENDANTS.
LARRY KEOWN, COUNTER CLAIMANT,
v.
GRINNELL SELECT INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, COUNTER DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant/Counter Claimant Larry Keown's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 21) and Memorandum of Law in Support thereof (Doc. 22). Plaintiff/Counter Defendant Grinnell Select Insurance Company filed its Response (Doc. 28), and Keown filed a Reply (Doc. 29). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the instant motion (Doc. 21) and ORDERS additional briefing regarding the monetary extent of Grinnell's duty to indemnify.

BACKGROUND

I. Judgment on the Pleadings Standard

A motion for judgment on the pleadings permits a party to move for judgment after the parties have filed the complaint and the answer. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The pleadings closed, and Keown subsequently filed this motion in a timely manner.

The Court employs the same standard in deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) as it does in deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old Nat. Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007). All factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be accepted as true, and the Court must draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); Pisciotta, 499 F.3d at 633. The Court may consider a plaintiff's brief demonstrating how he could make out a claim consistent with the facts alleged in his complaint, even though the substance of the brief is not included in the complaint. Forseth v. Village of Sussex, 199 F.3d 363, 368 (7th Cir. 2000); Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 122 F.3d 417, 419 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court will grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings if "it appears beyond all doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief." N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998).

II. Facts

None of the following facts are in dispute and are contained within the Complaint (Doc. 2) and Answer and Counterclaim (Doc. 14).

Larry Keown (Keown) and Brett Glodo (Brett) were involved in an auto collision that resulted in Keown being seriously injured. At the time of the accident, Brett was driving a pickup truck owned by his father-in-law, Terry Ernsting (Ernsting). Ernsting had allowed his daughter, Bria Glodo (Bria), to use the truck, even though she did not live with her father at the time. Even though Ernsting did not expressly permit his daughter to allow anyone else to use the truck, Bria allowed her husband, Brett, to use it.

Brett did not have a valid driver's license, and Bria was not with him at the time of the accident. Keown brought an action in tort against Bria, Brett, and Ernsting in the Circuit Court for Jackson County, Illinois. On December 5, 2008, Keown obtained a jury verdict in his favor in the amount of $600,000 against Bria and Brett. Specifically, the jury found that Bria had negligently entrusted her father's vehicle to Brett. Ernsting was not found liable.

Grinnell had issued an automobile insurance policy on the truck to Ernsting with a policy limit of $300,000. During the pendency of the Jackson County action, Grinnell obtained a declaratory judgment stating that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify Brett on grounds that he did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the accident. Eventually, Grinnell filed suit in this case against Keown and Bria, seeking another declaratory judgment. This time, the declaratory judgment sought would state Grinnell had no duty under Ernsting's policy to indemnify Bria nor any duty to Keown, her judgment creditor. Keown answered and filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment stating Grinnell had a duty to indemnify Bria, which would subsequently satisfy Keown's judgment.

Following the Court's realignment of actions concerning the foregoing facts, we are left with the instant case, where declaratory judgment is still sought by both Grinnell and Keown and Keown presently seeks judgment on the pleadings. The question before the Court is whether Grinnell must indemnify Bria for the Jackson County jury verdict of $600,000. The specific portion of the insurance policy at issue is as follows:

PART A - LIABILITY COVERAGE INSURING AGREEMENT

A. [Grinnell] will pay damages for "bodily injury" or "property damage" for which any "insured" becomes legally ...


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