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Artisan and Truckers Casualty Co. v. A&K Rentals, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 3, 2018

ARTISAN AND TRUCKERS CASUALTY CO., Plaintiff,
v.
A&K RENTALS, LLC, AMERICAN COMPLETE ACCESS HOIST AND PLATFORM LLC, ROBYN WELLEN, VERNON L. GOEDECKE COMPANY, INC., GOEDECKE COMPANY, BURLINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY, and TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT, DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on two pending motions filed by defendant A&K Rentals, LLC (“A&K”). The first is a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, to stay Count III of the amended complaint in this case. (Doc. 69.) The second is a motion for summary judgment as to Count II and Count III, or alternatively to stay Count I, of defendant Burlington Insurance Company's cross-claim against A&K. (Doc. 71.) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         One day in 2015, Richard Thessing drove a tractor-trailer to deliver a building hoist-a large device used for lifting very heavy loads-to a construction site. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Once Thessing arrived at the site, workers used a crane truck to unload the components of the hoist from the tractor-trailer. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17-19.) Unfortunately, the crane dropped part of the hoist onto Thessing, killing him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Later, Thessing's decedent-Robyn Wellen- brought a wrongful death action in Illinois state court against five defendants for damages stemming from the accident. (Am. Compl., Ex. 1.) One of those defendants is A&K: they owned the tractor-trailer, the crane truck, and the hoist. (Am. Compl. 15-19.) Another defendant is American Complete Access Hoist and Platform LLC (“American Complete”): Thessing worked for them, but it is not clear at this stage whether Thessing was an employee or an independent contractor.

         This Court is not faced with the wrongful death action. Rather, plaintiff Artisan and Truckers Casualty Co. (“Artisan”)-who insures A&K and American Complete via a commercial auto policy (the “Artisan Auto Policy”)-has brought this declaratory judgment action asking the Court to declare that Artisan does not have a duty to defend or indemnify defendants A&K and American Complete in the underlying state action. (Doc. 51.) The complaint contains several theories, but for the purposes of this particular motion, only Count III is relevant: it alleges that the worker's compensation and employer's liability exclusions in the Artisan Auto Policy precludes coverage for American Complete and A&K in the underlying state suit as well as a related claim before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Artisan points to another insurance company-Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (“Travelers”)-that provides workers compensation and employer's liability insurance to American Complete instead.

         There is also a third insurance company at issue: defendant Burlington Insurance Company, which has a commercial general liability policy with American Complete (the “Burlington General Policy”). Burlington has filed a cross-claim against A&K (Doc. 60.) alleging that they have no duty to defend or indemnify them in the underlying action as well, in a manner similar to Artisan's amended complaint.

         Now, A&K has filed two motions in respect to both Artisan's amended complaint as well as Burlington's cross-claim. First, A&K seeks summary judgment or a stay of Count III of Artisan's amended complaint. Second, A&K seeks summary judgment as to Count II and Count III, or alternatively to stay Count I, of defendant Burlington Insurance Company's cross-claim.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Summary judgment must be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir. 2008); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.

         The initial summary judgment burden of production is on the moving party to show the Court that there is no reason to have a trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 2013). If the moving party bears the burden of persuasion on an issue at trial, it must “lay out the elements of the claim, cite the facts which it believes satisfies these elements, and demonstrate why the record is so one-sided as to rule out the prospect of a finding in favor of the non-movant on the claim.” Hotel 71 Mezz Lender LLC v. National Ret. Fund, 778 F.3d 593, 601 (7th Cir. 2015); accord Felix v. Wisconsin Dep't of Transp., 828 F.3d 560, 570 (7th Cir. 2016). Where the moving party fails to meet that strict burden, the Court cannot enter summary judgment for that party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant evidence in response. Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).

         In responding to a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings, but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57; Modrowski, 712 F.3d at 1168. A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of “some alleged factual dispute between the parties, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact only exists if “a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         III.ANALYSIS

         A. The Artisan Auto Policy

         A&K advances three arguments in favor of their motion for summary judgment or to stay Count III of the Artisan Auto Policy: (1) that the claims are not ripe for adjudication; (2) that the employer's liability exclusion in the Artisan Auto Policy does not apply to them; and (3) that the Court must stay this action because it requires a determination of ...


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