The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN E. JONES, District Judge
This is Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by the plaintiff,
Allstate Insurance Company ("Plaintiff" or "Allstate"), which seeks a
declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et. seq.,
that it is not obligated to pay underinsured motorist benefits to the
Estate of Brent A. Leiter pursuant to an insurance policy issued to
Charles D. Leiter.
This Court has jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
For the reasons that follow, we hold that Allstate is not obligated to
pay benefits to the Estate of Brent A. Leiter. Accordingly, we shall
grant the motion for
judgment on the pleadings.
Allstate initiated this action on June 9, 2003, by filing a declaratory
judgment complaint. On July 17, 2003, Allstate filed a motion for
judgment on the pleadings and supporting brief. The defendant, Pamela E.
Leiter, Administratrix of the Estate of Brent A. Leiter ("Defendant"),
filed a brief in opposition to Allstate's motion on July 25, 2003. This
matter became ripe for disposition on August 4, 2003, when Allstate filed
a reply brief in support of its motion.
"After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay
the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, we
must accept all factual averments as true and must draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See U.S. Fidelity and
Guar. Co. v. Tierney Assoc., Inc., 213 F. Supp.2d 468, 469(M.D.
Pa. 2002)(citins Society Hill Civic Association v. Harris,
632 F.2d 1045, 1054(3d Cir. 1980)). "A party moving for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c) must demonstrate that there are no disputed
material facts and that judgment should be entered as a matter of law."
Id. (citing Jablonski v. Pan American World
Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290-01(3d Cir. 1988); see
Institute for Scientific Info., Inc. v. Gordon & Breach,
Science Publishers, Inc., 931 F.2d 1002, 1005 (3d Cir 1991)).
Here, there is no dispute as to the facts alleged within the Complaint
and Defendant agrees that no additional facts need be disclosed in order
to resolve the issues before us.
STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS:
On March 11, 2001, Brent A. Leiter ("Decedent" or "Leiter") and Andrew
J. Guizio ("Guizio") were occupants of a Chevrolet Baretta owned by Brent
Leiter which was involved in a one car motor vehicle accident. Both men
died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
The Chevrolet Baretta, along with three other automobiles, was covered
by an insurance policy issued to Charles D. Leiter, Brent Leiter's
father, by Allstate. The policy provides for $100,000.00 of bodily injury
liability insurance coverage, for $100,000.00 of underinsured motorist
coverage and for stacking of the vehicles insured under the policy.
Subsequent to the accident, the Pennsylvania State Police conducted an
investigation regarding which occupant of the car was driving at the time
of the accident. The investigation was inconclusive. The Administratrixes
of the Estates of Brent A. Leiter ("the Estate of Leiter") and Andrew J.
Guizio ("the Estate of
Guizio") each presented claims of bodily injury liability insurance
coverage to Allstate claiming that they were entitled to the proceeds of
the policy covering the vehicle. The Estate of Leiter insisted that
Guizio was driving at the time of the accident and the Estate Guizio
argued that Leiter was driving at the time of the accident.
On April 8, 2002, in light of its position as a mere stakeholder in the
dispute between the Estate of Leiter and Estate of Guizio, Allstate filed
a complaint in interpleader against both the Estate of Leiter and the
Estate of Guizio, tendering its $100,000 bodily injury limit of liability
to the Court. The Estates were able to reach a mediated settlement in the
action and agreed that the Estate of Leiter would receive ...