that any of the defendants should have obtained a judgment or even started an action against the plaintiff. It is enough that they have asserted claims against the plaintiff grounded on the provisions of the insurance policy. The Declaratory Judgment Act is procedural. Its purpose is to adjust controversies which are in esse but not actually crystallized in litigation. Maryland Casualty Co. v. Tindall, D.C., 30 F.Supp. 949.
The policy contains the "omnibus" clause set out above, which extends the protection of the policy to any person using an automobile covered thereby with the permission of the insured. The defendants, according to the allegations of the complaint, having asserted that the policy insures Joseph W. Maloney, and having demanded that the plaintiff assume liability for Maloney, and the plaintiff having denied such liability, an actual controversy exists, and the plaintiff is entitled to have the question adjudicated whether under the provisions of the "omnibus" clause and under the facts alleged in the complaint, if proved, any liability may now or hereafter attach to it by reason of the accident which is stated to have occurred. AEtna Life Ins. Co. of Hartford, Conn. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 57 S. Ct. 461, 81 L. Ed. 617, 108 A.L.R. 1000; Commercial Casualty Ins. v. Humphrey et al., D.C., 13 F.Supp. 174; Ohio Casualty Ins. Co. v. Plummer, D.C., 13 F.Supp. 169.
The trend of the cases dealing with declaratory judgment acts is to extend their benefit to parties whose interests are challenged or in jeopardy even before a right of action exists or cause of action accrues. Thus it is said by Borchard in his work on Declaratory Judgments (1934) p. 36: "The opposition to the plaintiff's demand must come from a source competent legally to jeopardize his right. Where, however, that is conceded, it still remains to determine whether the plaintiff has a sufficient interest, pecuniary or personal, to institute a proceeding worthy of judicial relief. He must show that his rights are in direct issue or jeopardy; and incidental thereto, must show that the facts are sufficiently complete, mature, proximate, and ripe to place him in gear with his adversary, and this to warrant the grant of judicial relief. Just when the controversy has reached the state of maturity cannot be a priori defined."
There is a wealth of authority recognizing the right to a judicial declaration of liability or nonliability in the field of liability insurance upon the happening of an accident. Some of the representative cases are AEtna Life Ins. Co. v. Williams, 1937, 8 Cir., 88 F.2d 929; Central Surety & Insurance Corporation v. Caswell, 5 Cir., 1937, 91 F.2d 607; Columbian National Life Insurance Co. v. Foulke, 8 Cir., 1937, 89 F.2d 261; Stephenson v. Equitable Life Assurance Society of U.S., 4 Cir., 1937, 92 F.2d 406; Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Daniel, 4 Cir., 1937, 92 F.2d 838; Carpenter v. Edmonson, 5 Cir., 1937, 92 F.2d 895; Western Casualty & Surety Co. v. Beverforden, 8 Cir., 1937, 93 F.2d 166; Maryland Casualty Co. v. Hubbard, D.C., 22 F.Supp. 697.
It is argued, though not made one of the grounds of the motion to dismiss, that the Keystone Dairies, Inc., should have been made a party to this proceeding. The Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act which is in force in many states contains a requirement that all persons who have or claim an interest which would be affected by the declaration sought shall be made parties. The Federal Declaratory Judgment Act contains no such requirement. I think it is sufficient if those persons be joined as parties defendant with whom the plaintiff has an actual controversy. Western Casualty & Surety Co. v. Beverforden, supra. In the instant case, there is no controversy between the plaintiff and the Keystone Dairies, Inc.; neither is the proceeding aimed at adjudication of any rights as between any of the defendants and the Keystone Dairies, Inc. Such rights, if any, will be unaffected by the judgment rendered in this case. The controversy being, as alleged in the complaint, only as to whether or not Joseph W. Maloney as operator of one of the trucks of the Keystone Dairies, Inc., which was insured by the plaintiff, is covered and protected by the terms of the insurance policy, the judgment rendered in this case will settle that question and no other.
The fact that a suit must be brought and successfully prosecuted by the defendants against Maloney before the asserted liability upon the insurer could attach does not alter the situation. The insurance policy filed with the complaint contains a provision requiring the insurer to defend any suit brought against the insured (or, by extension in the "omnibus" clause, against any person using the automobile with the permission of the insured). The insurer, denying as it does that the coverage of the policy extends to Maloney under the facts set out in the complaint, is entitled to have the legal relation between itself and Maloney determined in order that it may proceed with knowledge of its rights, either to defend or decline to defend any actions for damages which may be brought by any of the other defendants against Maloney in accordance with the decision to be rendered in the instant case defining its rights and obligations in that behalf.
The motions to dismiss the complaint will be denied. An order may be entered in accordance with this opinion.
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