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American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Coleman

April 22, 2010

AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER COLEMAN, INDIVIDUALLY, ANGELA DECICCO, AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATES OF SHERI COLEMAN, GARETT COLEMAN, AND GAVIN COLEMAN, DECEASED, AND MARIO WEISS, AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATES OF SHERI COLEMAN, GARETT COLEMAN, AND GAVIN COLEMAN, DECEASED, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff American Family Mutual Insurance Company's (hereinafter "American Family") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36) and Memorandum (Doc. 37) in support thereof. Despite the Court's entry of a show cause Memorandum and Order (Doc. 41), none of the Defendants filed a response brief.

For the following reasons, the Court, inter alia, GRANTS the instant motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts

Before analyzing a summary judgment motion, the reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving parties and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of those parties. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court, accepting all of Defendants' allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in their favor, finds as follows:

American Family issued a homeowner's insurance policy, Policy No. 12-BH0872-01, to Defendant Christopher Coleman (hereinafter "Christopher") and his wife, Sheri, which was in effect from March 1, 2009, to March 1, 2010. As with any insurance policy, the Coleman's policy contained certain exclusions from coverage. One of these was for intra-insured suits. Specifically, the policy stated that "[American Family] will not cover bodily injury to any insured." (Doc. 36-4, p. 3) (emphasis in original). The policy contained the following definition of an "insured": "[i]nsured means you and, if residents of your household: (1) your relatives . . . ." (Doc. 36-3, p. 4) (emphasis in original). It also listed the definition of "bodily injury" as "bodily harm, sickeness or disease . . . [and includes] death." Id.

On or around May 5, 2009, Sheri Coleman and her two sons with Christopher, Garett and Gavin, were found dead inside the family's home in Columbia, Illinois. Shortly thereafter, Christopher was charged in Monroe County, Illinois, with the first degree murder of his wife and boys.*fn1

On May 26, Defendants Angela DeCicco (hereinafter "DeCicco") and Mario Weiss (hereinafter "Weiss") were appointed as special administrators for the estates of Sheri, Garett, and Gavin. That same day, the two filed a wrongful death action against Christopher, DeCicco v. Coleman, Case No. 09-L-14 (Ill. Cir. Ct. Monroe Co. May 26, 2009), wherein it was alleged, inter alia, that "Christopher . . . was guilty of causing the death of [Sheri, Garett, and Gavin]." (Doc. 36-1, p. 2, 4). American Family does not dispute that the insurance policy issued to Christopher and Sheri was in effect at the time of Sheri, Garett, and Gavin's death, but, as best evidenced by the instant lawsuit, does dispute coverage.

II. Relevant Procedural Posture

On July 13, 2009, American Family filed a Complaint (Doc. 2) for declaratory judgment with this Court, alleging federal jurisdiction by way of diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (2006). However, due to deficient jurisdictional allegations in its original complaint, (see Doc. 21), American Family would be forced to file the now-operative Amended Complaint (Doc. 24) on October 28.

In essence, American Family seeks a declaratory judgment against Defendants that would state the following: 1) the homeowner's insurance policy at issue provides no coverage for the liability of Coleman as to the death of his wife and sons, and; 2) American Family has no duty to defend or indemnify Christopher from the wrongful death claims brought by DeCicco and Weiss. Under "Count I" and "Count II," American Family cites the policy's intra-insured suits clause and intentional acts clause respectively as the bases for its sought relief.

On January 6, 2010, American Family filed its summary judgment motion, arguing that judgment in its favor is proper pursuant to the policy's intra-insured suits clause.*fn2 As discussed supra, none of the Defendants filed a response brief to the instant motion. In fact, while DeCicco and Weiss filed an Answer (Doc. 31) to the amended complaint, Christopher has yet to even act in this litigation. Accordingly, as referenced in the Court's show cause order, (see Doc. 41, p. 1), the Court can and will ...


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