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Owners Insurance Co. v. Ingram

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 29, 2015

OWNERS INSURANCE CO., Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID M. HAGEN and ASHLEY INGRAM, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

In this action for declaratory relief, Owners Insurance Company filed suit seeking a declaration that a CGL policy it wrote for Defendant David Hagen (No. 084604-07060870-11-"the Policy") does not cover "the employment related claims of Ashley Ingram." Ingram, in Case No. 14-cv-0792-MJR ("the underlying case"), has sued Hagen for incidents stemming from the time she spent working at Hagen's lawn and landscaping business. The Amended Complaint in the underlying case alleges that Hagen was Ingram's employer (from 2009 through 2012), and that Hagen (1) violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and Illinois minimum wage laws in various ways and (2) sexually harassed her.

The instant case comes before the Court on Hagen's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, which ripened in late November upon Owners' response. For the reasons explained below, the Motion (Doc. 11) is DENIED.

JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) controls a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Rule 10 makes clear that attached, written documents are functionally part of those pleadings: "[a] copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes." Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). The rule is designed to permit a party to request a district court to dispose of the matter at the initial stage of the proceedings. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 n.3 (7th Cir. 1998).

A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is governed by the same standards as a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014). Judgment is based on the pleadings, and (as discussed above) the pleadings include the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached as exhibits. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, 163 F.3d at 452. Facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and the motion will be granted "only if it appears beyond doubt that the [nonmovant] cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief." Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). Accord Hous. Auth. Risk Retention Grp. V. Chi. Hous. Auth., 378 F.3d 596, 600 (7th Cir. 2004). The moving party must demonstrate that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved. Moss v. Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir. 2007).

THE POLICY AND BACKGROUND

Under the Policy, "Personal Injury" means injury "other than bodily injury, ' arising out of... discrimination, humiliation, sexual harassment and any violation of civil rights caused by such discrimination, humiliation or sexual harassment." (Doc. 2-2, 58-59). Hagen points to the plain language of that definition (which Owners' cedes is part of the Policy) as proof positive that the Policy covers Ingram's claims against him.

Owners counters that Hagen's incomplete reading of the Policy dooms his position. Specifically, Hagen fails to account for Exclusion 2.n. (labelled "Employment-Related Practices"), which provides in pertinent part that

This insurance does not apply to personal injury'... arising out of any

(b) Termination of a person's employment;
(c) Employment-related practice, policy, act or omission, including but not limited to coercion, demotion, evaluation, reassignment, discipline, defamation, harassment, humiliation or discrimination directed at a person

(Doc. 2-2, 39-40). The exclusion applies "[w]hether the insured may be liable as an employer or in any other capacity, " and "[w]hether the offense is alleged to arise out of the employment during the course or scope of employment, outside the ...


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