United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY and HARTFORD CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
TARGET CORPORATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wood United States District Judge
Hartford Fire Insurance Company and Hartford Casualty
Insurance Company (together, “Hartford”) have
filed this lawsuit seeking a declaration that they have no
duty under liability insurance policies issued by Hartford to
Springwise Facility Management, Inc.
(“Springwise”) to defend or indemnify Defendant
Target Corporation (“Target”) in connection with
a now-settled personal injury lawsuit. Now before the Court
is Hartford's motion for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the
reasons explained below, the motion is denied.
about March 1, 2011, Target and Springwise entered into a
supplier qualification agreement (“Supplier
Agreement”), pursuant to which Springwise provided
landscaping services at a Target store located on North
Elston Avenue in Chicago (“Elston Store”).
(Compl. ¶ 16 & Ex. C, Dkt. Nos. 1, 1-6; Def. Resp.
to Pls. Mot. for Judg. on Pleadings at 1, Dkt. No. 18.) The
Supplier Agreement provides that Springwise's commercial
general liability insurance must “designate Target as
an additional insured, including with respect to third party
claims or actions brought directly against Target or against
Target and [Springwise] as co-defendants and arising out of
the Agreement.” (Compl. ¶ 16 & Ex. C. at 6,
Dkt. Nos. 1, 1-6.)
commercial and umbrella liability policies issued by Hartford
to Springwise (together, the “Policies”) provide
coverage to Springwise (as the named insured) as well as to
any other person or organization that otherwise qualifies as
an insured. Under the commercial liability policy, a person
or organization may qualify as an “additional
insured” when the named insured has agreed in a written
contract or agreement that such person or organization be
added as an additional insured on the policy. (Compl. Ex.
A(4) at 31, Dkt. No. 1-4.) Such additional insureds may
include vendors; lessors of equipment, land, or premises;
architects, engineers or surveyors; or any other person or
organization that does not fall into one of those categories,
but only with respect to liability caused, in whole or in
part, by the insured's acts or omissions. (Id.
6, 2013, Marilyn Baez filed a complaint against Target in
federal court seeking damages for injuries that she allegedly
sustained when she slipped and fell while walking through the
parking lot of the Elston Store in June 2011. (Compl. ¶
17, Dkt. No. 1; Baez v. Target Corp., No.
1:13-cv-04258 (N.D. Ill.).) In October 2014, Target tendered
the Baez lawsuit to Hartford for defense and
indemnification. (Compl. ¶ 20, Dkt. No.
After a jury trial was set, Target sought leave to file a
counterclaim for contribution against Springwise. (Baez
v. Target Corp., No. 1:13- cv-04258 (N.D. Ill.), Dkt.
No. 56.) The district court denied the motion. (Id.,
Dkt. No. 59.) Just prior to trial, the parties reached a
settlement and the case was dismissed. (Id., Dkt.
Nos. 78, 80.) Then, on May 8, 2015, Target filed suit against
Springwise for indemnification and breach of contract.
(See Target Corp. v. Springwise Facility Mgmt., No.
1:15-cv-04109 (N.D. Ill.).) According to Target, its lawsuit
against Springwise is what prompted Hartford to file the
case, Hartford seeks a declaratory judgment that it owes no
coverage obligation to Target with respect to the
Baez litigation. In Count I of its complaint,
Hartford seeks a judgment that Target does not qualify as an
additional insured under the Policies. In Count II, Hartford
asks the Court to find that it has no duty to defend or
indemnify Target because Target breached the Policies'
notice requirements. With the present motion, Hartford seeks
a judgment on the pleadings with respect to Count I only.
Hartford argues that there is no material question of fact
with respect to whether Target qualifies as an additional
insured because nothing in the Baez complaint
indicates that Springwise's acts or omissions form the
basis of Target's liability. Target, on the other hand,
contends that it is entitled to indemnification by Hartford
because the expenses it incurred in connection with the
Baez litigation did in fact arise because of
Springwise's negligent acts and omissions.
succeed on a Rule 12(c) motion, “the moving party must
demonstrate that there are no material issues of fact to be
resolved.” N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v.
City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998).
See also Nat'l Fid. Life Ins. Co. v. Karaganis,
811 F.2d 357, 358 (7th Cir. 1987) (“A motion for
judgment on the pleadings may be granted only if the moving
party clearly establishes that no material issue of fact
remains to be resolved and that he or she is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.”). “The court may
consider only matters presented in the pleadings and must
view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party.” Karaganis, 811 F.2d at 358.
decide the present motion, the Court must determine whether
there is any material issue of fact with respect to whether
Target qualifies as an additional insured for purposes of
Springwise's commercial liability policy. The Supplier
Agreement between Target and Springwise clearly states that
Target must be designated as such. But because Target does
not fall within any of the specific categories of additional
insureds expressly listed in the policy (e.g.,
vendors, lessors, etc.), it qualifies as an
additional insured only with respect to liability caused, in
whole or in part, by Springwise's acts or omissions. The
question is therefore whether the injuries sustained by
Marilyn Baez at the Elston Store are in any way attributable
to Springwise's maintenance of the parking lot.
Springwise contends that the answer to that question is
“no, ” simply because Springwise was not named as
a defendant in the Baez lawsuit and the
Baez complaint contains no specific allegations
against Springwise. That does not necessarily lead to the
conclusion that Target's alleged liability was based
solely upon its own acts or omissions, however.
Court sees no reason why the application of the
additional-insured provision at issue should turn on
allegations drafted by a third party for purposes of her own
claim. How would the plaintiff in the
Baez litigation have known that Springwise was
providing landscaping services at the Elston Store and
therefore might share some responsibility for her injuries?
Indeed, it was perfectly reasonable for her to assume that
Target was responsible for the condition of its parking lot.
That Springwise was not named as a defendant in the
Baez litigation has little bearing on whether
Target's alleged liability actually arose as a result of
Springwise's acts or omissions and certainly is not
dispositive. Nor does the complaint's lack of explicit
allegations against Springwise necessarily lead to the
conclusion that Target's liability was based solely upon
its own alleged negligence. Whether Springwise contributed to
Target's liability depends upon the resolution of a
number of factual questions relating to the services provided
by Springwise and the circumstances of Baez's fall.
Because the Baez case settled before trial, there
are no factual findings on record with respect to those
questions. If it can be shown that Springwise left the
premises in an unsafe condition and Baez fell as a result,
Target very well may qualify as an additional insured for
purposes of Springwise's commercial liability policy.
Because Target's status as an additional insured requires
factual determinations that would be improper at this stage
in the proceedings, Hartford's motion for judgment on the
pleadings must be denied.
reasons stated above, Hartford's motion for judgment on