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GENERAL STAR NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. v. TOWNSHIP

May 25, 2004.

GENERAL STAR NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
PALMER TOWNSHIP, DONALD S. HIMMELREICH, VIRGINIA S. RICKERT, THEODORE BOREK, ROBERT LAMMI, JEFFREY YOUNG, ROBERT ELLIOTT, ROBERT WASSER, H. ROBERT DAWS, HEMSTREET, HIMMELREICH & NITCHKEY, and JOHN DOES, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES KNOLL GARDNER, District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on the Motion for Summary Judgment, which motion was filed by plaintiff on March 19, 2004. For the reasons expressed below, we conclude that plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its Complaint for Declaratory Judgment. Therefore, we grant plaintiff's motion.

  PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

  This civil action arises from a dispute over plaintiff General Star National Insurance Company's ("GenStar") duty to indemnify or defend defendants in an underlying State court action pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. On June 13, 2003 plaintiff filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment in this court seeking a declaration that it is not required to indemnify or defend defendants in the underlying State court action. On January 21, 2004 the Answer of Defendants was filed.

  On March 19, 2004 plaintiff filed its Motion for Summary Judgment. On April 2, 2004 the Response of Defendants, Palmer Township, Virginia S. Rickert, Theodore Borek, Robert Lammi, Jeffrey Young, Robert Elliot, Robert Wasser, and H. Robert Daws in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and the Brief of Defendants, Palmer Township, Virginia S. Rickert, Theodore Borek, Robert Lammi, Jeffrey Young, Robert Elliot, Robert Wasser, and H. Robert Daws in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment were filed.

  Plaintiff argues, and defendants do not substantively dispute, that there are no disputes as to any material fact precluding the entry of summary judgment in this matter. The sole issue raised in this case and at issue on this motion for summary judgment is whether, under the applicable insurance policy, plaintiff is obligated to continue to indemnify and defend defendants in the underlying State court action.

  For the reasons which follow, we find that plaintiff is not obligated to indemnify or defend defendants in the underlying State court cause of action. Thus, we now grant plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

  STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

  Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that judgment shall be rendered where it is shown that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); accord Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Pension Fund v. McCormick Dray Line, Inc., 85 F.3d 1098, 1102 (3d Cir. 1996). Plaintiff argues and defendants do not substantively contest that there are no genuine issues of material fact. Below, we address whether plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FINDINGS OF FACT

  Based upon the pleadings, record papers, depositions and exhibits of the parties, the undersigned makes the following findings of fact:

  1. GenStar provides public officials and employment practices liability insurance on a claims-made basis to the Pennsylvania Municipal Insurance Program pursuant to Master Policy #NYA602601.*fn1

  2. Defendant Palmer Township holds Certificate #45 (the "Policy") under the Master Policy.*fn2

  3. The Policy generally provides indemnity and defense to Palmer Township for any claim made against the Township for "wrongful acts".*fn3

  4. Indemnity coverage is provided in the amount of $1,000,000.00 per claim and $3,000,000.00 in the aggregate.*fn4

  5. The Policy also provides coverage to "lawfully elected, appointed or employed officials", "lawfully appointed members of the commissions, boards or other units of ...


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