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Westfield Insurance Co. v. Rose Paving Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 5, 2014




Several Motions are pending before the Court. For the reasons discussed herein, the Motions are resolved as follows: Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is granted; Defendants' Motion to File a Combined Brief is granted; Plaintiff's Motion to Strike is denied; Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.


This insurance coverage dispute arises from an accident that occurred on a 75-foot yacht. The following background information, drawn from the pleadings in this case, is uncontested unless noted otherwise.

Defendants Rose Paving and Alan Rose ("the Rose Defendants"), along with several others who are not parties here, owned the yacht and operated it for cruises on Lake Michigan. It appears that those parties used the trade name "RQM" for their yacht business. On September 1, 2009, Scot Vandenberg attended a five-hour cruise on the chartered yacht. During the event, Mr. Vandenberg was sitting on a bench on the yacht's upper deck. The deck lacked an upper railing, and the bench was not secured. Mr. Vandenberg sustained severe injuries when the bench tipped over and he fell to the bottom deck.

Plaintiff Westfield Insurance Company had issued a policy of commercial general liability ("CGL") insurance, as well as an umbrella policy (collectively, the "Westfield policies"), to Rose Paving. The insuring agreement provided that Plaintiff "will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury' or property damage' to which this insurance applies." ECF No. 56-1 at 75.

In the insuring agreement, Rose Paving's business is described as "concrete construction." ECF No. 56-1 at 54. The "Schedule of Hazards" lists the risks associated with Rose Paving's business: "concrete construction, " "contractors executive supervisors, " and "subcontractors." ECF No. 56-2 at 49. According to the contract, Rose Paving did not own, hire, or lease any watercraft, docks, or floats. ECF No. 56-2 at 50. The document includes a section entitled "representations, " in which the parties agreed that (1) the policy was based on statements and representations made to Plaintiff, (2) those statements were accurate and complete, and (3) Plaintiff issued the policy in reliance upon those representations. ECF No. 56-1 at 86.

Two underlying lawsuits preceded this case. The Vandenbergs - Scot and his wife, Patricia - filed suit in Illinois state court against Rose Paving Company, Alan Rose, and other defendants not parties to this action ("the Vandenberg suit"). Westfield denied any coverage for the claim and did not retain counsel to defend Rose Paving and Alan Rose. In the second case, In re RQM, LLC ("the RQM suit"), No. 10-CV-5520, RQM filed suit in this District in admiralty seeking exoneration from liability for the accident.

Plaintiff brought this action to determine the rights and duties of the parties under the Westfield policies. Later, the Vandenberg and RQM suits were resolved when all parties (other than Westfield, which was not party to those cases) settled. In their settlement agreement, the Rose Defendants assigned to the Vandenbergs the right to collect under the Westfield policies. The Rose Defendants were dismissed from this case, and the only remaining dispute is between Plaintiff and the Vandenbergs over whether Plaintiff must pay the Vandenbergs under the policy.

Plaintiff has moved for judgment on the pleadings. Defendants have responded by moving for summary judgment. Also pending are Defendants' Motion for Leave to File a Combined Brief and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) allows a party to move for judgment on the pleadings, which include the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments, including contracts, that are attached as exhibits. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452-53 (7th Cir. 1998). When ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court views the facts in the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and will grant the motion only if it appears beyond doubt that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009).

Defendants dispute that this case can be resolved on the basis of the pleadings alone, and respond to the motion with a motion for summary judgment that asks the Court to consider evidence outside the pleadings. If the Court considers evidence outside the pleadings, a motion for judgment on ...

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