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Western Heritage Insurance Co. v. Darrah

November 17, 2010

WESTERN HERITAGE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF
v.
HARRY J. DARRAH, JR., T/A DARRAH'S AUTOMOTIVE AND RECYCLING, ESTATE OF HARRY J. DARRAH., JR., DECEASED, NEIL ALBERT, ESQ., AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF HARRY J. DARRAH, JR., DECEASED, JOSEPH STINE, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

This is a diversity action controlled by Pennsylvania law. Plaintiff, Western Heritage Insurance Company, seeks a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to defend and indemnify defendants, the administrator of the Estate of Harry J. Darrah, Jr., and Harry J. Darrah, Jr. t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling, in a civil suit in the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff in that action, Joseph Stine, sued to recover for serious personal injuries he suffered while working on premises controlled by the "Darrah Defendants."*fn1

Western Heritage has filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The plaintiff insurer contends it has no duty to defend or indemnify the Estate of Harry J. Darrah, Jr., or Harry J. Darrah, Jr. t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling for the following reasons. First, Darrah's Automotive and Recycling is the named insured on the policy, and the policy excludes coverage for injuries to employees of the named insured under the employer's liability exclusion. Second, the policy does not cover Darrah in his individual capacity. Third, the policy limits coverage to auto dismantling and recycling operations, and Stine alleged that his injuries occurred while he was repairing a vehicle in the repair/body shop.

We agree with Plaintiff's third reason and will therefore grant declaratory relief.

II. Standard of Review

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." To be successful on a Rule 12(c) motion, the moving party must establish that "'no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Rosenau v. Unifund Corp., 539 F.3d 218, 221 (3d Cir. 2008)(quoted case omitted). "'[W]e must view the facts presented in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.'" Id. (quoted case omitted)(brackets added).

The amended complaint in the underlying state-court action is part of the pleadings because it is attached to Western Heritage's complaint as an exhibit. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c). See also Churchill v. Star Enterprises, 183 F.3d 184, 190 n.5 (3d Cir. 1999). In any event, as a public record, it may be considered on a Rule 12(c) motion. Id.; Sutton v. Royal Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Pontiac-Buick, Inc., No. 03-1825, 2004 WL 90071, at *3 n.3 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 15, 2004).

III. Background

A. The Pertinent Policy Language

The Western Heritage policy is a commercial general liability insurance policy providing coverage for bodily injury or property damage "that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages." (Doc. 1-4, Compl., Ex. B, the Western Heritage policy, CM/ECF p. 14).*fn2 The Declarations page lists as the "Named Insured" "Harry J. Darrah, Jr t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recy[c]ling" with an address at 535 Prospect Street, York, Pennsylvania. (Id., CM/ECF p. 3). The policy period ran from May 9, 2004, to May 9, 2005. (Id.).

Item 4 on the Declarations page includes a description of the business as "Auto Sales/Salvage & Repair Garage." However, an endorsement, effective August 8, 2004, amended that description to "Auto Dismantling and Recycling Operations."*fn3 The endorsement is entitled "Limitation of Coverage to Designated Premises or Project." Underneath this title, the endorsement reads: "This endorsement modifies insurance provided under the following: Commercial General Liability Coverage Part." Below this language is the title "Schedule" and two boxes, one for listing "Premises" and the other for listing a "Project." The "Premises" box is empty. The "Project" box reads: "Auto Dismantling and Recycling Operation." Underneath the boxes, the endorsement reads: "If no entry appears above, information required to complete this endorsement will be shown in the Declarations as applicable to this endorsement." The endorsement then provides:

This insurance applies only to "bodily injury", "property damage"... and medical expenses arising out of:

1. The ownership, maintenance or use of the premises shown in the Schedule and operations necessary or ...


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