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Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Garman

May 19, 2010

NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INS. CO.; AND NATIONWIDE MUTUAL FIRE INS. CO., PLAINTIFFS
v.
FREDERICK G. GARMAN, DEFENDANT
v.
THE PHOENIX INS. CO. A/S/O JAMES AND CHRISTINA MORTON, INTERVENOR DEFENDANT:



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court are Defendant Frederick G. Garman's motion to compel joinder, (Doc. 17), and Intervenor Defendants Phoenix Insurance Company and James and Christine Morton's motion to intervene, (Doc. 7) (collectively, "Defendants"). For the reasons that follow, the motion to compel joinder will be denied and the motion to intervene will be deemed moot.

I. Background

A. Facts*fn1

1. Parties

Plaintiffs Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company ("Nationwide") are both insurance companies incorporated in the state of Ohio. Nationwide Mutual Fire issued Garman a Homeowners Policy effective from May 15, 2008, to May 15, 2009. In addition, Nationwide Mutual issued Garman an Umbrella Policy effective July 24, 2008, to July 24, 2009.

Defendant Garman and Defendants Mortons are all residents of York, Pennsylvania. Defendant Phoenix Insurance Company provided insurance on the Mortons' property.

2. The Fire

In July of 2008, the Mortons hired Garman to pressure wash their deck. Garman began his work on or around July 24, 2008. On July 31, 2008, Garman applied a Penafin stain to the deck, using towels to wipe the stain. He than placed these towels in the Mortons' garage. On August 1, 2008, Garman used these same towels to do touch up work on the deck. Later that afternoon, a fire occurred on the Mortons' property causing extensive damage. It is alleged that this fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of the rags Garman placed in the garage.

Nationwide argues that because Garman was engaged in a business pursuit, it was outside the coverage provided by his homeowners insurance, or the accompanying umbrella policy.

B. Procedural Posture

On October 13, 2009, Phoenix and the Mortons filed an action against Garman alleging that due to his negligent action of placing the rags in the garage, the Mortons' property burned down. (See 1:09-cv-1978, Doc. 1.) On July 23, 2009, Nationwide filed the instant action asking this court to declare that they have no obligation to cover Garman in Phoenix's related action because Garman was engaged in a business activity that is outside the scope of his policy. (Doc. 1.)

On December 6, 2009, Phoenix filed a motion to intervene in the declaratory judgment action arguing they have an interest in the outcome of the litigation. (Doc. 7.) A brief in support was filed on January 4, 2010. (Doc. 16.) To which Nationwide opposed on January 12, 2010. (Doc. 18.) On April 1, 2010, after the case was briefly stayed, Phoenix filed their reply brief. (Doc. 29.)

On January 12, 2010, Garman filed a motion to compel joinder of Phoenix arguing that they are a required party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19. (Doc. 17.) On January 29, 2010, a brief in support was filed, (Doc. 22), and Nationwide responded on April 6, 2010, ...


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