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Occidental Fire & Casualty Company of North Carolina v. D'Line Logistics, Inc.

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

December 19, 2017

OCCIDENTAL FIRE & CASUALTY COMPANY OF NORTH CAROLINA, Plaintiff,
v.
D'LINE LOGISTICS, INC., MATTHEW G. HUNTLEY, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Ravi Dyer, and DANIEL DYER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GARY FEINERMAN, JUDGE.

         Occidental Fire & Casualty Company of North Carolina seeks in this coverage suit a declaration that it has no duty to defend or indemnify D'Line Logistics, Inc. or Matthew G. Huntley, the special administrator of the Estate of Ravi Dyer (“the Estate”), in a tort case brought by Ravi's son, Daniel Dyer, in Nevada state court. Doc. 1. D'Line did not appear and has been defaulted. Doc. 40. Occidental has moved for summary judgment against the Estate and Daniel, and the Estate has moved for summary judgment against Occidental. Docs. 41, 45. Daniel, who as the plaintiff in the Nevada case is a necessary party in this suit, see Great W. Cas. Co. v. Mayorga, 342 F.3d 816, 817 (7th Cir. 2003); M.F.A. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Cheek, 363 N.E.2d 809, 811 (Ill. 1977), has neither moved for summary judgment himself nor opposed Occidental's motion. Occidental's motion is granted, and the Estate's motion is denied.

         Background

         Because the court will grant summary judgment to Occidental, the facts are set forth as favorably to the Estate and Daniel as the record and Local Rule 56.1 permit. See Garofalo v. Vill. of Hazel Crest, 754 F.3d 428, 430 (7th Cir. 2014). Neither the Estate nor Daniel filed a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response to Occidental's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement, Doc. 46, or a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) reply to Occidental's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement, Doc. 51 at 5-6, so the factual assertions in Occidental's statements are deemed admitted. See Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 2015) (“When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.”). The court assumes the truth of those facts for purposes of summary judgment, but does not vouch for them. See Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N. Am., 805 F.3d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 2015). All that said, the relevant facts are undisputed.

         On June 10, 2013, Ravi Dyer sustained fatal injuries in a traffic accident in Nevada. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 8, 13; Doc. 51 at pp. 1-2 ¶ 1. Ravi was hauling cargo on behalf of D'Line, a motor carrier, in a truck leased to D'Line. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 9-12; Doc. 51 at pp. 1-2, 4-5 ¶¶ 1-3, 10. Daniel, Ravi's son, was a passenger in the truck and injured in the accident. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 9, 14; Doc. 51 at pp. 1-2 ¶ 1.

         At the time of the accident, D'Line had a commercial auto policy with Occidental; the policy identifies D'Line as the only “named insured.” Doc. 46 at ¶ 21; Doc. 46-7 at 2; Doc. 51 at p. 2 ¶ 5, p. 5 ¶ 1. The policy provides that “[Occidental] will pay all sums an ‘insured' legally must pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury' … caused by an ‘accident' and resulting from the ownership, maintenance, or use of a covered ‘auto.'” Doc. 46 at ¶ 22. The truck that Ravi was driving was not a “covered auto” under the policy. Id. at ¶¶ 23-29. However, as required by the Motor Carriers Act, 49 U.S.C. § 13906(f), the policy includes an “MCS-90 Endorsement”; the endorsement is issued to D'Line, and it lists no other party as an insured. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 32-34; Doc. 46-7 at 10-11; Doc. 51 at p. 6 ¶ 2. The MCS-90 provides, in pertinent part, that Occidental “agrees to pay, within the limits of liability described herein, any final judgment recovered against the insured for public liability resulting from negligence in the operation … of motor vehicles subject to [certain provisions of the Motor Carrier Act] regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy … .” Doc. 46 at ¶ 35; Doc. 51 at pp. 4-5 ¶¶ 9-10.

         On April 21, 2015, Daniel filed a damages action against the Estate and others in Nevada state court, Dyer v. T Quartercircle Ranch, Case No. CV15-00735 (Second Judicial District Court, State of Nevada, County of Washoe), alleging that Ravi's negligent operation of the truck caused the accident. Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 15-17; Doc. 51 at p. 6 ¶ 3. Daniel's action does not name D'Line as a defendant. Doc. 46 at ¶ 18; Doc. 51 at p. 6 ¶¶ 4-5. The Estate notified Occidental of the action on May 15, 2015. Doc. 46 at ¶ 19; Doc. 51 at p. 3 ¶ 6. Occidental agreed to defend the Estate, subject to a complete reservation of rights. Doc. 46 at ¶ 20; Doc. 51 at p. 3 ¶ 6. As permitted by Illinois law, see Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co. v. Dugan, 810 F.3d 446, 449-50 (7th Cir. 2015), Occidental later filed this suit to seek a declaration that it need not defend or indemnify D'Line or the Estate in the Nevada action. Doc. 1.

         Discussion

         The parties agree that, but for the MCS-90 Endorsement, the policy would not provide coverage to the Estate for Daniel's lawsuit. Doc. 42 at pp. 5-6, ¶¶ 8-9; Doc. 48 at 5-8. The only dispute concerns whether the endorsement provides that coverage. Before digging into the merits, some background regarding the federal Motor Carriers Act is in order.

         “Congress enacted the [Motor Carriers Act], in part, to address [certain] abuses …, including the use by motor carriers of leased or borrowed vehicles to avoid financial responsibility for accidents that occurred while goods were being transported in interstate commerce.” Canal Ins. Co. v. Distrib. Servs., Inc., 320 F.3d 488, 489 (4th Cir. 2003). To that end, the Act requires motor carriers like D'Line to “file[] with the Secretary [of Transportation] a bond, insurance policy, or other type of security approved by the Secretary” that covers judgments against the carrier for “negligent operation … of motor vehicles, ” 49 U.S.C. § 13906(a)(1), and empowers the Secretary to “prescribe the appropriate form of endorsement” that carriers must “append[] to policies of insurance and surety bonds” in order to comply with the Act, id. § 13906(f). Pursuant to that statutory authority, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) promulgated the MCS-90 Endorsement. As noted, the endorsement provides that the insurer “agrees to pay, within the limits of liability described herein, any final judgment recovered against the insured for public liability resulting from negligence in the operation … of motor vehicles subject to [certain provisions of the Motor Carrier Act] regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy … .” 49 C.F.R. § 387.15 (emphasis added).

         In arguing that the MCS-90 Endorsement does not require it to cover the Estate in Daniel's lawsuit, Occidental focuses on the phrase “against the insured.” According to Occidental, because D'Line is the only named insured in the endorsement, the endorsement does not cover claims against any other party, including the Estate. Occidental's position finds support in Regulatory Guidance 58065, issued by the FMCSA in 2005, which provides in relevant part:

Question: Does the term “insured, ” as used on Form MCS-90, Endorsement for Motor Carrier Policies of Insurance for Public Liability, or “Principal”, as used on Form MCS-82, Motor Carrier Liability Surety Bond, mean the motor carrier named in the endorsement or surety bond?
Guidance: Yes. Under 49 CFR 387.5, “insured and principal” is defined as “the motor carrier named in the policy of insurance, surety bond, endorsement, or notice of cancellation, and also the fiduciary of such motor carrier.” Form MCS-90 and Form MCS-82 are not intended, and do not purport, to require a motor carrier's insurer or surety to satisfy a judgment against any party other than the carrier named in the endorsement or surety bond or its fiduciary.

         Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Regulatory Guidance for Forms Used to Establish Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, 70 Fed. Reg. 58, 065, 58, 066 (Oct. 5, 2005). According to the Guidance, then, the MCS-90 Endorsement in this case required Occidental to provide coverage for a (hypothetical) lawsuit by Daniel against D'Line-the motor carrier named ...


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