John Corradi v. Old United Casualty Company
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 1:15-cv-00488-GBL-MSN Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [16-1150]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
Plaintiff – Appellant,
OLD UNITED CASUALTY COMPANY,
Defendant – Appellee,
FOREST AGENCY, INC.,
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Gerald Bruce Lee, District
December 30, 2016
January 18, 2017
Before NIEMEYER, KING, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Lee Robert Arzt, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellant.
Anderson, Catherine M. Banich, TAYLOR ENGLISH DUMA LLP, Atlanta,
Georgia, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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John Corradi appeals the district court’s orders denying
his motion for nonsuit under Virginia state law and granting
summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Old United Casualty
district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of
Old United because, although the terms of the insurance policy
(“Policy”) excluded coverage for damages to Corradi’s aircraft
pilots, that provision is void pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 38.22204 (2014).
Corradi also argues that the district court erred
in refusing to allow voluntary dismissal of the case pursuant to
Virginia’s nonsuit statute.
Corradi contends that this ruling
was erroneous because Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64
(1938), requires a federal court sitting in diversity to apply
all substantive state laws, and Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-380 (2015)
is substantive rather than procedural.
“We review the district court’s grant of summary judgment
Walker v. Mod-U-Kraf Homes, LLC, 775 F.3d 202, 207 (4th Cir.
We construe the evidence in the light most favorable to
Corradi and draw all reasonable inferences in his favor.
“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
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movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Civ. P. 56(a).
policies consistent with the parties’ intent.”
Inc. v. Citizens Ins. Co. of Am., 792 F.3d 520, 532 (4th Cir.
favor of the insured.
But we do not entertain an absurd result—
one that would ‘enlarge the obligations undertaken originally by
the insurer, and would permit a windfall to the insured.’”
(quoting Transit Cas. Co. v. Hartman's, Inc., 239 S.E.2d 894,
897 (Va. 1978)) (brackets omitted).
The Policy provided that “the aircraft must be operated
in-flight only by the ‘Approved Pilots’ shown [in Item 7 of the
Policy] . . . . There is no coverage under the policy if the
pilot does not meet these requirements.”
The language of the
Policy is not ambiguous, and the parties clearly intended to
provide coverage only when the Aircraft was operated by one of
the two pilots listed in Item 7.
The accident occurred with a
non approved pilot flying the Aircraft, and therefore, under the
Moreover, the restriction encompassed in the Policy does not
which was passed with the “purpose of protecting the public from
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loss caused by the negligence of permissive users of insured
Hartman’s, 239 S.E.2d at 897.
The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in Hartman’s does not
mandate a different outcome.
There, the Virginia Supreme Court
analyzed “whether a named insured may recover from his liability
insurance carrier for damage to his own property when the policy
excludes from coverage property owned by ‘the insured.’”
The court concluded that “the insured” referred to the
individual claiming coverage, and the policy excluded coverage
for damage to Hartman’s own property.
Id. at 896-97.
“earlier case[s], involving claims of injured members of the
public, we construed the omnibus clause to serve its designed
negligence of permissive users of insured vehicles.”
parties to the insurance contract, the named insured and the
insurer, [were] in issue.”
Similarly, in Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Merrimack Mut. Fire
coverage for injuries sustained by the insured.
argued that the contract provision limiting coverage was void in
light of the omnibus statute.
After analyzing the statute,
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we concluded that the appellant, “like the insured in Hartman’s,
. . . [was] attempting to convert a liability policy into a
policy covering first-party loss. . . . [T]he Legislature of
Virginia did not by the enactment of the omnibus clause intend
to accomplish any such result.”
Id. at 482
In this case, excluding coverage for first-party losses due
disrupt the omnibus statute’s stated purpose of protecting “the
public from losses caused by the negligence of permissive users
of insured vehicles,” and therefore does not run afoul of either
the statute’s intent or its plain language.
capable of classification as procedure.”
Shady Grove Orthopedic
Assocs., P.A. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 559 U.S. 393, 406 (2010)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Id. at 398.
Consequently, “[w]e must
“If it does, it governs . . . unless it
exceeds statutory authorization or Congress’s rulemaking power.
We do not wade into Erie’s murky waters unless the federal rule
is inapplicable or invalid.”
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Id. (citations omitted).
Federal Rule “governs only the manner and the means by which the
litigants’ rights are enforced, it is valid; if it alters the
rights, it is not.”
Id. at 407 (brackets omitted).
The question in dispute here, whether Corradi may as of
which provides that a plaintiff may dismiss his complaint after
an answer or motion for summary judgment has been filed only if
he files “a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who
Fed. R. Civ. P. 41.
The relevant Virginia Code
voluntary dismissal at any time “before a motion to strike the
evidence has been sustained or before the jury retires from the
bar or before the action has been submitted to the court for
Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-380.
But because Rule 41 is
undoubtedly procedural, it controls in this case.
A rule that
allows for voluntary dismissal if certain conditions are met
alters the manner and means of enforcing the litigant’s rights,
applied Rule 41 to Corradi’s motion to voluntarily dismiss.
Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment.
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this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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