United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Farm Fire and Casualty Company seeks a declaration that it
has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured, Tim Ruby, in
a personal injury action brought against him in state court.
State Farm contends that the business pursuits exclusion in
Ruby's homeowner's policy excuses it from covering
him. It moves for judgment on the pleadings or for summary
disputed whether Ruby was engaged in a business pursuit as
State Farm alleges or was a volunteer as Ruby contends.
Therefore, given this disputed material fact, we shall deny
State Farm's motion.
plaintiff in the underlying action, Cornelius Jones, alleges
that he was injured when he was ejected from a golf cart
operated by Ruby. The incident occurred at a wedding hosted
by Michael and Jane Stolper, who hired Kim Rosen Events as
the wedding coordinator and King Limousine to provide
transportation services. Jones, an employee of King Limousine,
claims that as he attempted to sit in the golf cart, it
“suddenly and unexpectedly took off, ” causing
him to be “thrown into the air” and
filed a personal injury action in the Court of Common Pleas
of Chester County, naming the Stolpers, Kim Rosen Events, and
Ruby as defendants. Jones alleged that Ruby, while acting as
an “agent, servant and/or workman for the Stolpers
and/or Rosen, or . . . working on his own behalf, ” was
careless and negligent in operating the golf
time of the incident, Ruby was covered by a homeowner's
policy issued by State Farm to Ruby's wife, Jacquelyn
Andrietta. Ruby is covered as Andrietta's
spouse. Ruby requested that State Farm defend and
indemnify him in the state court action.
Farm brought this action under the Declaratory Judgment Act,
28 U.S.C. § 2201, seeking a declaration that it has no
duty to defend or indemnify Ruby in the state court action.
Claiming Ruby was engaged in a business pursuit while
operating the golf cart, State Farm contends that the
business pursuits exclusion in the policy excuses it from
covering the claim in the underlying lawsuit. Ruby counters
that he was not engaged in any business pursuit, but rather
“was simply a volunteer at the
event.” He claims that his presence at the wedding
was “a way to spend some time with his wife”
while she worked “at a big fancy
deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings made pursuant
to Rule 12(c), we consider only the facts alleged in the
pleadings and documents attached as exhibits or incorporated
by reference in the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
10(c) (instrument attached as an exhibit is part of a
pleading for all purposes); Commercial Money Ctr., Inc.
v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir.
2007); cf. Steinhardt Grp. Inc. v. Citicorp, 126
F.3d 144, 145 & n.1 (3d Cir. 1997) (in Rule 12(b)(6)
context). The well-pleaded factual assertions in the
nonmovant's pleadings are accepted as true and all
contravening allegations in the movant's pleadings are
assumed to be false. 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1368 (3d ed., Apr.
2016) (citing Allah v. Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247,
249-50 (3d Cir. 2000)).
movant must establish that no material issue of fact remains
to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Jablonski v. Pan Am. World Airways,
Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290-91 (3d Cir. 1988); Shelly v.
Johns-Manville Corp., 798 F.2d 93, 97 n.4 (3d Cir.
1986). If a material issue of fact arises from the pleadings,
the motion cannot be granted. Inst. for Sci. Info., Inc.
v. Gordon & Breach, Sci. Publishers, Inc., 931 F.2d
1002, 1005 n.3 (3d Cir. 1991) (citing Jablonski, 863
F.2d at 290-91). The motion can be granted only if the
nonmovant cannot prevail under any set of facts. Green v.
Fund Asset Mgmt., L.P., 245 F.3d 214, 220 (3d Cir.
2001); Turbe v. Gov't of V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428
(3d Cir. 1991) (“We can affirm the district court only
if no relief could be granted under any set of facts that
could be proved.”).
of Insurance Contracts
interpretation of an insurance contract is a question of law.
Am. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Murray, 658 F.3d 311, 320 (3d
Cir. 2011). Whether a claim is within a policy's coverage
or barred by an exclusion may be determined on a motion for
judgment on the pleadings or a motion for summary judgment.
Allstate Fire & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Hymes, 29 A.3d
1169, 1171 (Pa. Super. 2011); Bishops, Inc. v. Penn
Nat'l Ins., 984 A.2d 982, 989 (Pa. Super. 2009).
must give effect to the plain language of the insurance
contract read in its entirety. Am. Auto. Ins. Co.,
658 F.3d at 320. When the policy language is ambiguous, the
provision is construed in favor of the insured. Ramara,
Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 814 F.3d 660, 673-74 (3d
Cir. 2016); Pa. Nat'l Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. St.
John, 106 A.3d 1, 14 (Pa. 2014). Contract language is
ambiguous if it is capable of more than one construction and
meaning. Pa. Nat'l, 106 A.3d at 14. However,
policy language may not be stretched beyond its plain meaning