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Allstate Insurance Co. v. Wells

July 15, 2009

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
GAIL L. WELLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Allstate*fn1 filed this three-count complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201, seeking a declaratory judgment of the rights and liabilities of the parties under a homeowner's insurance policy (# 028357530) and a personal umbrella insurance policy (# 908660308) issued to Defendant Gail L. Wells. The parties filed cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, I will grant Allstate's motion, deny the motion of the defendants, and enter judgment in favor of Allstate.

I. BACKGROUND

Allstate seeks an Order declaring that it does not have a duty to defend or indemnify Defendant Mark Wells, a family member*fn2 of Mrs. Wells, for the claims set forth by Defendant Kathleen Schickling in a companion case filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. (June Term 2008, No. 0073). Mrs. Schickling filed that case as the executrix of the estate of her husband James Schickling, who died a couple of days after being violently struck in the head by Mr. Wells. That case alleges causes of action based on negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, wrongful death, survival action, and the loss of consortium. Allstate's complaint includes the following three paragraphs contained in Mrs. Schickling's state court matter which outlined the factual basis of her complaint:

42. On or about the late evening of June 3, 2006 or early morning hours of June 4, 2006, Defendant Mark Wells struck the decedent, James Schickling, in the head causing injuries to the decedent that caused the decedent's death.

43. At all times material hereto, on the late evening of June 3, 2006 or the early morning hours of June 4, 2006, Defendant Mark Wells, having been negligently, carelessly and recklessly sold and served alcoholic beverages by the Defendants through their duly authorized agents, servants, representatives, and/or employees at the Defendant Holiday Inn Conference Center and the Budweiser Tap Room while he was obviously in a visibly intoxicated condition in violation of applicable Pennsylvania law, did strike the decedent, James Schickling, with great force causing the decedent's death thereafter on June 6, 2006, as described hereinafter at length.

44. On April 9, 2007, Defendant Mark Wells plead guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter*fn3 arising from the death of the decedent, James Schickling.

See Compl. ¶ 25 (footnote added); see also Compl. Exh. C ¶¶ 42-44.

On July 21, 2008, Allstate sent a reservation of rights letter to Defendant Mark Wells informing him of its intent to investigate whether it had a responsibility in this matter to provide coverage:

We are sending you this Reservation of Rights letter regarding the Civil Action filed by Kathleen Schickling, Executrix of the Estate of James Schickling, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County as a result of an incident that occurred on or about June 3-4, 2006. This letter serves to reserve our rights to timely investigate this matter without an admission of coverage.

There is an indication of a reason or reasons why Allstate Insurance Company does not have an obligation to you under said policy with respect to the Civil Action filed by Kathleen Schickling. The intent of Allstate Insurance Company is to provide, without prejudice to the rights of Allstate Insurance Company, a defense to you until a determination is made whether or not Allstate Insurance Company has responsibility in this matter or Allstate Insurance Company has satisfied itself with respect to such matter.

Our conduct, in providing a defense to you and in conducting an investigation related to the facts of this matter are not intended to be, and shall not operate in any way as, a waiver or invalidation of any of the conditions of Policy Numbers 028357530 and 908660308 or any rights that Allstate Insurance Company has under policies to assert non-liability because of applicable policy provisions.

See Compl. Exh. D.

II. STANDARD FOR MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON ...


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