Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Western Heritage Insurance Company v. Harry J. Darrah

December 6, 2012

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; AND JOSEPH STINE, DEFENDANTS



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

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

We are considering Plaintiff's motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings. 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 or indemnify defendants, the Estate of Harry J. Darrah, Jr.; Neil Albert, Esq., 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 state-court action, Joseph Stine, has also been named as a defendant here. He sued to recover for serious personal injuries he suffered, including scarring and disfigurement, while he was working on premises controlled by the "Darrah Defendants."*fn1

II. Procedural History

This is the second time the parties have been before us litigating whether Western Heritage must defend and indemnify the Estate or Harry J. Darrah, Jr., t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling in the Stine litigation. In the previous case, we ruled that Stine's allegations in his first amended state-court complaint did not fall within the scope of Western Heritage's policy, and we entered a declaratory judgment in its favor. Western Heritage Ins. Co. v. Harry J. Darrah, Jr., t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling, No. 10-476, 2010 WL 4780955 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 17, 2010). That case is now on appeal in the Third Circuit. C.A. No. 10-4663.

After our ruling, Stine filed in the state-court action a second amended complaint on May 11, 2011, altering the allegations that bear on whether Western Heritage has to provide coverage. The Western Heritage policy provides coverage for an automobile dismantling and recycling operation, but Stine's previous pleading had only alleged he was injured while repairing a vehicle in the repair/body shop. His second amended state-court complaint attempts to tie his injury to the policy's coverage by adding new allegations. He now adds that the repair/body shop is used in the dismantling and recycling operation, and in several paragraphs of his new pleading he adds the italicized language that he was injured while "working on repairing a vehicle in the repair/body shop in use in auto dismantling and recycling operations . . . ." (See e.g., Doc. 2-2, second amended state-court complaint ¶ 72).

Stine's new state-court pleading prompted plaintiff Western Heritage to file this second declaratory-judgment action. Defendants then filed two motions to dismiss, one by the estate; attorney Albert, the administrator of the estate, and Harry J. Darrah, Jr. t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling, and the other by Stine (although Stine simply adopted the arguments made by the other defendants). Among other things, they argued that Plaintiff was not entitled to a declaratory judgment denying coverage because the allegations of the second amended state-court complaint brought Stine's claim within the coverage provided by Western Heritage. On May 23, 2012, we denied both motions, concluding that Stine's new state-court complaint still did not bring his claim within Plaintiff's duty to defend or indemnify and hence Western Heritage could still be entitled to a declaratory judgment. Western Heritage Ins. Co. v. Harry J. Darrah, Jr., t/a Darrah's Automotive and Recycling, No. 11-1539, 2012 WL 1886665, at *4 (M.D. Pa. May 23, 2012).

As noted, we now have before us the plaintiff insurer's motion for judgment on the pleadings. That motion makes the following arguments: (1) even under the new state-court complaint, Stine still has not made a claim within the scope of the policy's coverage that requires either a duty to defend or indemnify; (2) the Employer's Liability exclusion excludes coverage because Stine is an employee of the Named Insured; (3) Harry J. Darrah, Jr., is not the Named Insured and does not qualify as an insured in his individual capacity for the claims made against him; (4) the doctrine of collateral estoppel bars the defendants from seeking defense or coverage under the policy as the issue was already litigated in the prior declaratory-judgment action; and (5) Pennsylvania law on artful pleading bars Defendants from seeking defense or coverage because Stine's second amended state-court complaint represents an attempt to evade our ruling in the previous declaratory-judgment action.

III. 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). In deciding the motion, we may also consider documents attached to the complaint. See Huertas v. Galaxy Asset Mgmt., 641 F.3d 28, 32-33 (3d Cir. 2011).

IV. 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. C, the Western Heritage policy, ECF p. 14). 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., 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."*fn2

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 incidental to those premises; or

2. The project shown in the Schedule. (Id., ECF p. 9).

Item 4 on the Declarations page also asked that a check be placed in one of four check boxes that correspond to the type of business the Named Insured was. The options were: "Individual," "Partnership or Joint Venture," "Limited Liability Company," or "Other." The "Other" box was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.