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HOFING GMC TRUCK, INC. v. KAY WHEEL SALES CO.

July 19, 1982

HOFING GMC TRUCK, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
KAY WHEEL SALES COMPANY, INC., Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff, v. METROPOLITAN BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, INC., Third-Party Defendant, and Midland Insurance Company and W. H. Brownyard Corporation, Garnishees



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

During the night of Friday, January 27 to Saturday, January 28, 1978, an eight-wheel tractor owned by plaintiff Hofing GMC Truck, Inc. ("Hofing") was stolen from the premises of defendant Kay Wheel Sales Co., Inc. ("Kay"). Hofing filed suit against Kay for the value of the tractor plus incidental damages, and Kay shortly thereafter filed a third-party complaint against Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, Inc. ("Metropolitan") a security agency under contract with Kay to furnish the services of a security guard to protect Kay's premises on the night the tractor was stolen. Metropolitan failed to appear and defend, and a default judgment was entered against Metropolitan and in favor of Kay on January 9, 1979. On April 30, 1979, following trial on April 23, 1979, judgment was entered in favor of plaintiff Hofing and against defendant Kay in the amount of $ 42,308.85. On May 7, 1979, following a hearing on damages on Kay's third-party action against Metropolitan, judgment was entered in favor of Kay and against Metropolitan on Kay's indemnity claim in the amount of $ 42,308.85. Kay then sought to have its judgment satisfied by garnishing the proceeds of a comprehensive general liability insurance policy which allegedly covered Metropolitan's operations at the time of the incident. The insurer, garnishee Midland Insurance Company ("Midland"), has denied coverage. Kay now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Kay's motion will be granted.

 The insurance policy involved here was issued by Midland to Metropolitan on January 1, 1978, the day after Metropolitan entered into the agreement with Kay to provide security guard services. The policy is entitled "Comprehensive General Liability Insurance," and identifies the business of the insured as "Security Operations" and "Detective and Patrol." See Kay's Motion for Summary Judgment against Garnishee Midland Insurance Co. ("Kay's Motion"), Exhibit B; Midland's Answer to the Motion for Summary Judgment ("Midland's Answer"), Exhibit A. The policy itself consists of a series of printed and typewritten forms, providing coverage for property damage liability, personal injury liability, and contractually assumed liability.

 A reading of the moving papers shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact regarding the incident for which coverage is sought. Thus, the only question addressed by the parties in their legal memoranda is whether the Midland policy, properly construed, provides coverage for the theft of the tractor under the circumstances of this case. Where an insurer's liability depends upon the construction of a clause or an exception that presents strictly a legal question for the Court, resolution of the dispute by summary judgment is appropriate. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; 6 Moore's Federal Practice P 56.17(31) (2d ed. 1982).

 Kay contends that two provisions of the Midland policy provide coverage. First, Kay argues that coverage is provided under an endorsement entitled "SECURITY GUARD PROGRAM," which appears intended to afford some form of coverage for errors and omissions of Metropolitan's employees in the performance of their professional services. Secondly, Kay asserts that the theft of the tractor is covered by the policy provisions providing coverage for certain of Metropolitan's contractually assumed liabilities. The Court has concluded, however, that the "SECURITY GUARD PROGRAM" endorsement provides coverage in this instance. The remainder of this memorandum will accordingly be limited to a discussion of the Court's analysis of that endorsement.

 On a printed form designated L6394(a), one of the forms constituting the Midland policy at issue, Midland provides, in pertinent part, the following coverage:

 
The company will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of
 
A. bodily injury or
 
B. property damage
 
to which this insurance applies, caused by an occurrence, and the company shall have the right and duty to defend any suit against the insured seeking damages on account of such bodily injury or property damage, even if any of the allegations of the suit are groundless, false or fraudulent, and may make such investigation and settlement of any claim or suit as it deems expedient, but the company shall not be obligated to pay any claim or judgment or to defend any suit after the applicable limit of the company's liability has been exhausted by payment of judgments or settlements.

 Kay's Motion, Exhibit B; Midland's Answer, Exhibit A. "Property damage" is defined as:

 
(1) physical injury to or destruction of tangible property which occurs during the policy period, including the loss of use thereof at any time resulting therefrom, or (2) loss of use of tangible property which has not been physically injured or destroyed provided such loss of use is caused by an occurrence during the policy period.

 Kay's Motion, Exhibit B. The provision providing coverage for property damage is followed on the printed form by sixteen exclusions, which ...


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