Canal Insurance Company v. P.S. Transport, Inc.

Filing

PUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [10-60196 Affirmed ] Judge: HRD , Judge: FPB , Judge: JWE Mandate pull date is 11/22/2010 [10-60196]

Download PDF
Canal Insurance Company:v. P.S. Transport, Inc. Case 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 1 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 Doc. 0 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS United States Court of Appeals FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT Fifth Circuit FILED November 1, 2010 N o . 10-60196 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk C A N A L INSURANCE CO., P la in t if f -A p p e lle e , v. B E R N E T T A COLEMAN D e fe n d a n t -A p p e lla n t . A p p e a l from the United States District Court fo r the Northern District of Mississippi B e fo r e DeMOSS, BENAVIDES, and ELROD, Circuit Judges. F O R T U N A T O P. BENAVIDES, Circuit Judge: A n MCS-90 endorsement to an automotive insurance policy obligates an in s u r e r to cover an insured's negligence involving "vehicles subject to the fin a n c ia l responsibility requirements of . . . the Motor Carrier Act." The Motor C a r r ie r Act, in turn, creates minimum levels of financial responsibility "for the t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property by motor carrier . . . within the United States." Plaintiff-appellee Canal Insurance Company seeks a declaratory judgment that t h e MCS-90 endorsement does not cover an accident where the truck involved w a s not engaged in the transportation of property at the time of the accident. The district court granted summary judgment for Canal. We affirm. We hold t h a t the MCS-90 covers only liability for the transportation of property. That Dockets.Justia.com Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 2 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 s a id , we take no position as to whether the liability in this case was "for the t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property," because the parties stipulated that it was not. I . FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND T h is is an insurance dispute arising from a truck accident. The relevant fa c t s are undisputed. Timothy Briggs, Jr., a trucker and employee of Defendant P .S . Transport, was backing a truck into his driveway when he collided with a T o y o t a Camry occupied by Defendant-appellant Bernetta Coleman and her h u s b a n d Glen. At the time of the accident, Briggs was returning home from w o r k . He was driving the truck "bobtail" when he collided with the Colemans, m e a n in g that the truck had no trailer attached.1 The sole issue on this appeal is whether P.S. Transport's automotive insurance policy ¯ and more specifically, t h e policy's federally mandated MCS-90 endorsement ¯ covers the accident b e tw e e n Briggs and the Colemans. T h e Colemans sued Briggs and P.S. Transport in state court in M is s is s ip p i. They assert personal-injury claims against Briggs for negligence, a n d they also seek to recover from P.S. Transport under the doctrine of r e s p o n d e a t superior. In response to the state-court lawsuit, Canal filed this suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi a g a i n s t Briggs, P.S. Transport, and the Colemans. Canal seeks a declaratory As discussed in greater detail below, see infra Part III.C, we do not hold today that a "bobtail" truck can never be engaged in the transportation of property. Nor do we take any position as to whether Briggs was actually engaged in "transportation of property" at the time of the accident in this case. 1 2 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 3 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 ju d g m e n t that it is not required under the P.S. Policy to indemnify P.S. T r a n s p o r t for any judgment the Colemans obtain.2 T h e insurance policy at issue on this appeal is a Basic Automobile Liability P o lic y that Plaintiff-appellee Canal issued in favor of P.S. Transport ("the P.S. P o lic y " ).3 The policy provides: S E C T I O N A-BASIC AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE I. COVERAGE A ­ BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE B ­ PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY: T h e company will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the in s u r e d shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of b o d i l y injury or property damage to which this insurance applies, c a u s e d by an occurrence and arising out of the ownership, m a in t e n a n c e , or use . . . of an owned automobile . . . . P .S . Transport did not own the truck Briggs was driving at the time of the a c c id e n t. Rather, the truck was under a "lease-and-employment" agreement, m e a n in g that Briggs owned the truck but leased it to P.S. Transport as part of Initially, the suit also involved a second Canal-issued insurance policy, Policy Number 455687, which Canal issued to Timothy Briggs ("the Briggs Policy"). Canal first sought a judgment that it was not required under either the P.S. Policy or the Briggs Policy to pay a judgment arising from the accident. Canal eventually amended its complaint to exclude the Briggs Policy from this action. Coleman makes a number of arguments about the interrelationship of the two policies. She "fears that, under the facts of this case, any adjudication that Canal is obligated to pay damages under the Briggs policy" might have a preclusive effect on her argument that Canal is obligated to pay under the P.S. Policy. The Court does not consider Coleman's arguments regarding the Briggs Policy because it is no longer part of this lawsuit. See King v. Dogan, 31 F.3d 344, 346 (5th Cir. 1994) (noting that an amended complaint supersedes original complaint and renders it of no legal effect "unless the amended complaint specifically refers to and adopts or incorporates by reference the earlier pleading") (citing Boelens v. Redman Homes, Inc., 759 F.2d 504, 508 (5th Cir. 1985))). Moreover, even if the Briggs Policy were properly before us, we would not need to reach Coleman's arguments about it because we have determined that the MCS-90 does not cover the accident. That determination does not depend on an assessment of the Briggs Policy. 3 2 Policy Number 438979. 3 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 4 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 h is employment contract. Accordingly, Briggs's truck was not an "owned a u t o m o b ile " within the meaning of the policy and did not fall within the plain t e r m s of the policy's coverage. A lt h o u g h the P.S. Policy did not explicitly cover Briggs's truck, it did c o n t a in a federally mandated policy endorsement, the MCS-90. The purpose of t h e MCS-90 endorsement is to "assure compliance" with federal minimum levels o f financial responsibility for motor carriers. See 49 C.F.R. § 387.15 illus. 1. The M C S -9 0 endorsement must be attached to any liability policy issued to for-hire m o t o r carriers operating motor vehicles transporting property in interstate c o m m e r c e . See 49 C.F.R. §§ 387.3, 387.7. The endorsement creates a suretyship, w h ic h obligates an insurer to pay certain judgments against the insured arising fr o m interstate commerce activities, even though the insurance contract would h a v e otherwise excluded coverage. Minter v. Great Am. Ins. Co. of N.Y., 423 F.3d 4 6 0 , 470 (5th Cir. 2005). A fte r Canal filed this declaratory-judgment action, P.S. Transport failed t o respond, and the district court entered default judgment against it. Both C a n a l and Coleman moved for summary judgment on various issues, including t h e one currently on appeal: whether the MCS-90 endorsement applies.4 The d is t r ic t court granted Canal's motion and denied Coleman's. Coleman appealed. She now asks this Court to reverse the district court's order granting summary ju d g m e n t in favor of Canal and order the district court to grant her motion for s u m m a r y judgment. The district court made other determinations on summary judgment (for instance, that Canal did not have a duty to defend P.S. Transport in the state-court action). Coleman appeals only the district court's determination that the MCS-90 did not cover the accident. 4 4 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 5 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 I I . STANDARD OF REVIEW We review "`the grant of summary judgment de novo, applying the same s t a n d a r d s as the district court.'" In re Egleston, 448 F.3d 803, 809 (5th Cir. 2006) (q u o tin g In re Intelogic Trace, Inc., 200 F.3d 382, 386 (5th Cir. 2000)). Summary ju d g m e n t is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure m a t e r ia ls on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to a n y material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of la w ." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). "We construe all facts and inferences in the light m o s t favorable to the nonmoving party when reviewing grants of motions for s u m m a r y judgment." (c it a t io n omitted). I I I . ANALYSIS T h e sole question the Court must answer today is whether the MCS-90 e n d o r s e m e n t covers the Briggs-Coleman accident. This is a question of federal la w . Lincoln Gen. Ins. Co. v. Garcia, 501 F.3d 436, 439 (5th Cir. 2007). We c o n c lu d e that the answer is "no" because (1) the MCS-90 only covers liability for t h e transportation of property, and (2) the parties stipulate that Briggs was not e n g a g e d in the transportation of property at the time of the collision. Our analysis proceeds in four parts. First, in Part III.A, we consider the p l a i n text of the MCS-90 and the statute it effectuates and conclude that the M C S -9 0 only provides coverage "for the transportation of property." Second, in P a r t III.B, we look to relevant precedent from this Court and find that it s u p p o r t s our conclusion about the MCS-90's scope. Third, in Part III.C, we ask w h e t h e r the MCS-90 applies in this case in light of our determination that it Murray v. Earle, 405 F.3d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 2005) 5 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 6 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 o n ly covers liability for the "transportation of property." Finally, in Part III.D, w e consider and reject Coleman's alternative reading of the MCS-90. A. I n order to determine the scope of the MCS-90's coverage, we look first to it s plain terms. The endorsement provides: I n consideration of the premium stated in the policy to which this e n d o r s e m e n t is attached, the insurer (the company) agrees to pay, w ith in the limits of liability described herein, any final judgment r e c o v e r e d against the insured for public liability resulting from n e g lig e n c e in the operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles s u b je c t to the financial responsibility requirements of Sections 29 a n d 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 regardless of whether or not e a c h motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy and w h e t h e r or not such negligence occurs on any route or in any t e r r it o r y authorized to be served by the insured or elsewhere. Such in s u r a n c e as is afforded, for public liability, does not apply to injury t o or death of the insured's employees while engaged in the course o f their employment, or property transported by the insured, d e s ig n a t e d as cargo. It is understood and agreed that no condition, p r o v is io n , stipulation, or limitation contained in the policy, this e n d o r s e m e n t , or any other endorsement thereon, or violation t h e r e o f, shall relieve the company from liability or from the p a y m e n t of any final judgment, within the limits of liability herein d e s c r ib e d , irrespective of the financial condition, insolvency or b a n k r u p t c y of the insured. However, all terms, conditions, and lim it a t io n s in the policy to which the endorsement is attached shall r e m a in in full force and effect as binding between the insured and t h e company. The insured agrees to reimburse the company for any p a y m e n t made by the company on account of any accident, claim, or s u it involving a breach of the terms of the policy, and for any p a y m e n t that the company would not have been obligated to make u n d e r the provisions of the policy except for the agreement c o n t a in e d in this endorsement. 6 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 7 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 4 9 C.F.R. § 387.15 illus. 1 (emphasis added). In short, the endorsement requires C a n a l to pay any final judgment against P.S. Transport for "public liability" r e s u lt in g from the negligent use of "motor vehicles subject to the financial r e s p o n s ib ilit y requirements of Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1 9 8 0 ." Id. Because the parties do not make negligence an issue on this appeal, t h e issue before us today is simply whether Briggs's truck was "subject to the fin a n c ia l responsibility requirements of Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier A c t of 1980." W e must next look to the relevant portion of the Motor Carrier Act, § 30, t o determine whether Briggs's vehicle was subject to its financial-responsibility r e q u ir e m e n t s .5 It reads: T h e Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations to r e q u ir e minimum levels of financial responsibility sufficient to s a tis f y liability amounts established by the Secretary covering p u b lic liability, property damage, and environmental restoration for th e transportation of property by motor carrier or motor private c a r r ie r (as such terms are defined in section 13102 of this title) in t h e United States between a place in a State and­ (A ) a place in another State; (B) another place in the same State through a place o u t s id e of that State; or (C) a place outside the United States. 49 U.S.C. § 31139(b) (emphasis added). Section 30 of the Motor Carrier Act is codified as amended at 49 U.S.C. § 31139(b). See Motor Carrier Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-296, § 30, 94 Stat 793 (1980). Section 29 -- also referenced by the MCS-90 -- is not relevant in this case, as it simply amended part of the previous statute by "striking out `approved by the Commission.' and inserting in lieu thereof `approved by the Commission, in an amount not less than such amount as the Secretary of Transportation prescribes pursuant to, or as is required by, the provisions of section 30 the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.'" Id. § 29. 5 7 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 8 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 A fte r reading the plain text of the MCS-90 and § 30, we conclude that the e n d o r s e m e n t covers vehicles only when they are presently engaged in the t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property in interstate commerce. We reason as follows: the M C S -9 0 applies to vehicles subject to § 30 of the Motor Carrier Act. Section 30 r e q u ir e s minimum levels of financial responsibility, which must be sufficient to " s a t is fy liability . . . for the transportation of property in interstate commerce." Thus, the MCS-90 is a way of conforming with statutory minimum-financialr e s p o n s ib ilit y requirements. And because those requirements exist to "satisfy lia b ilit y . . . for the transportation of property," it follows that the MCS-90 must c o v e r liabilities "for the transportation of property." Nothing in the MCS-90's t e x t indicates that it covers other kinds of liabilities, i.e., liabilities incurred o u ts id e of the transportation of property. B. I n addition to the plain text of the endorsement, relevant precedent from t h is Court supports our conclusion that the MCS-90 does not apply here because B r ig g s -- per the parties' stipulation -- was not engaged in the transportation o f property at the time of the accident. Neither this Court nor most federal c o u r ts have ever directly addressed the precise question before us.6 However, we Besides the district court below, only one federal court has engaged at length the issue of whether the MCS-90 covers an accident that happened while a truck was not transporting property. See Brunson ex rel. Brunson v. Canal Ins. Co., 602 F. Supp. 2d 711 (D.S.C. 2007). In that case, a tractor-trailer driver collided with the plaintiffs' vehicle while "solely on a personal mission." Id. at 716. As in the case before us, it was undisputed in Brunson that the truck involved in the accident was not a "covered vehicle" under the policy. Id. at 715 n.1. Accordingly, the court had to decide only whether the MCS-90 endorsement applied. The court held that the MCS-90 did not apply because, inter alia, the driver "was not transporting property pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 387.3(a) at the time of the accident." Id. at 716. Coleman argues that the district court erred in relying on Brunson as persuasive authority. We disagree. Coleman points out that, in Brunson, two other statutory 6 8 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 9 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 h a v e considered whether the MCS-90 covers accidents that fail to meet another s t a t u t o r y prerequisite: transportation "in the United States." See Garcia, 501 F .3 d at 439; see also Canal Indem. Co. v. Galindo, 344 F. App'x 909 (5th Cir. 2 0 0 9 ) (per curiam). Our reasoning as to the "in the United States" limitation a p p lie s with equal force to the "transportation of property" limitation. I n Lincoln General Insurance Co. v. Garcia, we considered the scope of the M C S -9 0 B , which is identical to the MCS-90 except that it applies to t r a n s p o r t a t io n of passengers rather than property.7 Garcia involved a bus a c c id e n t that happened in Mexico: a tour bus collided with a vehicle carrying e ig h t passengers, all of whom were either injured or killed. Id. at 437. The i n s u r a n c e company sought a declaratory judgment that the MCS-90B e n d o r s e m e n t did not cover the accident. Id. at 438. When the issue came before u s , we began our inquiry by looking to the plain language of the endorsement, a s we have done here. Like the MCS-90, the MCS-90B requires coverage for v e h ic le s "subject to" statutory minimum-financial-responsibility requirements fo r the "transportation . . . in the United States." See 49 U.S.C. § 31138(a); 49 § C.F.R. 387.39 illus. 1. We analyzed the plain language of the MCS-90B and prerequisites for application of the MCS-90 were missing. However, the fact that the Court in Brunson had multiple alternative reasons for its ruling does not mean that the district court in this case erred in considering it. Compare 49 C.F.R. § 387.15 illus. 1 (the MCS-90 endorsement), and 49 U.S.C. § 31139 ("minimum financial responsibility for transporting property"), with 49 C.F.R. § 387.39 illus. 1 (the MCS-90B endorsement), and 49 U.S.C. § 31138 ("minimum financial responsibility for transporting passengers"). We have previously determined that MCS-90B cases control our interpretation of the MCS-90. See Galindo, 344 F. App'x at 911 ("By using identical language in the two statutes to apply liability to passengers and to property, Congress gave the statutes identical reach."). 7 9 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 10 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 t h e relevant statute, and we held that the MCS-90B would not cover an accident t h a t happened outside the United States: Reading the statute in conjunction with the MCS-90B endorsement, t h e minimum levels of financial responsibility requirements apply t o the transportation of passengers "in the United States"; thus, the e n d o r s e m e n t does not require an insurer to pay judgments r e c o v e r e d against the insured if the transportation of passengers by m o t o r vehicle does not occur in the United States. Accordingly, the e n d o r s e m e n t does not cover the Morquechos' accident in Mexico b e c a u s e the accident occurred in a place where the motor vehicle w a s not subject to the minimum financial responsibility r e q u ir e m e n t s in § 31138. G a r c ia , 501 F.3d at 441. S e v e r a l years later, we considered another accident that occurred outside t h e United States involving a motor carrier subject to federal minimumfin a n c ia l-r e s p o n s ib ilit y regulations. See Galindo, 344 F. App'x at 910. The only d iffe r e n c e between Garcia and Galindo was that Galindo involved an MCS-90 e n d o r s e m e n t -- rather than an MCS-90B -- because the carrier was engaged in t h e transportation of property, not passengers. In Galindo, we followed Garcia a n d concluded that the MCS-90 endorsement only covered transportation inside t h e United States. Id. at 911. Our decision today follows the reasoning of Garcia and our unpublished o p in io n in Galindo. The commonality in our reasoning is this: in all these cases, w e determined the MCS-90's applicability with reference to time of the loss. As 10 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 11 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 d is c u s s e d above, see supra Part III.A, we believe that the MCS-90's text clearly c o m p e ls this approach.8 O t h e r courts have varied as to whether they determine the MCS-90's a p p lic a t io n at the time of the loss, but ours appears to be the majority approach. See, e.g., Century Indem. Co. v. Carlson, 133 F.3d 591, 595 (8th Cir. 1998) (a g r e e in g with "the determination that the grain in question in this case at the tim e of the accident traveled in interstate commerce" (emphasis added)); Canal I n s . Co. v. J. Perchak Trucking, Inc., 3:CV-07-2272, 2009 WL 959596, at *2 (M.D. P a . Apr. 6, 2009) (denying summary judgment because "[c]onsideration of the Some secondary literature has called the question of whether the MCS-90's application is determined at the time of the loss "unsettled." See generally MCS 90: Is It Limited According to the Use of the Truck?, Motor Carrier Liability (CCH) ¶1941 (2009). That said, other literature takes the view that the MCS-90's application is specific to the time of the loss. One stated: An important final point about the inclusion of an MCS-90 endorsement on an auto insurance policy is that it does not apply on a blanket basis to every accident. The endorsement only applies to accidents involving motor vehicles that are subject to the financial responsibility requirements of §§29 and 30 of the Act. The Act applies to "for-hire" vehicles transporting any property in interstate or foreign commerce where the gross vehicle weight rating is in excess of 10,000 pounds. . . . If the vehicle involved in the accident was not transporting goods for a third party or did not have a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 10,000 pounds or was not engaged in interstate commerce, the MCS-90 endorsement would not apply. . . . Each claim must be examined individually to determine whether the Act applies to the actual vehicle and the activities of the vehicle involved in the accident. Glenn F. Brown, Navigating the Motor Carrier Insurance Maze, AM. BANKR. INST. L. REV., Oct. 28, 2009, at 57 (emphasis added); see also WILLIAM E. KENTWORTHY, TRANSPORTATION SAFETY A N D INSURANCE LAW § 3.02 (2010) (discussing the Eighth Circuit's application of a trip-specific approach to interstate commerce); DAVID N. NISSENBERG, THE LAW OF COMMERCIAL TRUCKING § 6.05 (2003) (noting that "[w]hether a trip is in interstate or intrastate commerce may be determinative of the application . . . the MCS-90 endorsement"); SAUL SORKIN, GOODS IN TR A N S I T § 3.03 (2010) ("It has been held that the destination intended by the passenger or shipper at the commencement of the journey or shipment and known to the carrier determines the character of the commerce."). 8 11 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 12 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 im p o r t a n t issues presented in this case should be made only in the context of a c o n c r e t e determination as to whether the insured's vehicle was involved in in t e r s t a t e or intrastate commerce at the time of the accident" (emphasis added)); C a n a l Ins. Co. v. Paul Cox Trucking, 1:05-CV-2194, 2006 WL 2828755, at *4 (M .D . Pa. Oct. 2, 2006) (holding that a federal court has jurisdiction over the q u e s t io n of whether truck was "engaged in interstate commerce at the time of the a c c id e n t" (emphasis added)); Kolencik v. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co., 1:04-CV3 5 0 7 , 2006 WL 738715, at *7 (N.D. Ga. Mar. 17, 2006) ("Based on the foregoing, t h e court concludes that endorsement MCS-90 plays no role in the instant a c cid en t because it involved only intrastate commerce from Cartersville, Georgia t o Acworth, Georgia with no intention of the dirt ever going beyond Acworth."); B r a n s o n v. MGA Ins. Co., 673 So. 2d 89 (Fl. Dist. Ct. App. 1996) (declining to a p p ly the MCS-90 to purely instrastate transportation); Gen. Sec. Ins. Co. v. B a r r e n tin e , 829 So. 2d 980, 984 (Fl. Dist. Ct. App. 2002) ("The issue is not w h e t h e r a truck might be used for an interstate shipment in the future. That m u c h could be said of nearly any tractor-trailer rig. Rather, the issue is whether t h e injury in question occurred while the truck was operating in interstate c o m m e r c e ." (emphasis added)). But see, e.g., Royal Indem. Co. v. Jacobsen, 863 F . Supp. 1537, 1541 (D. Utah 1994) ("In the court's view, Royal's `trip specific' r e a d in g of the Holdens' ICC endorsement (or any ICC endorsement for that m a t t e r ) is incorrect."); Travelers Indem. Co. of IL v. W. Am. Specialized Transp. S e r v s ., Inc., 235 F. Supp. 2d 522, 529­30 (W.D. La. 2002) (holding that the t r u c k 's procurement or lease agreement, rather than the circumstances of the p a r tic u la r loss, determine the MCS-90's application); Reliance Nat'l Ins. v. Royal 12 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 13 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 I n d e m . Co., 99-Civ.-10920, 2001 WL 984737, at *4­7 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 24, 2001) (s a m e ). In sum, the weight of authority from this Circuit and beyond supports our c o n c lu s io n that the MCS-90 does not cover vehicles when they are not presently t r a n s p o r t in g property in interstate commerce. C. T h e next logical step, then, would be to ask whether the MCS-90 covered t h e accident in question in this case. With respect to that question, the district c o u r t held: Congress empowered the Secretary of Transportation to "prescribe r e g u la t io n s to require minimum levels of financial responsibility s u ffic ie n t to satisfy liability amounts . . . covering public liability, p r o p e r t y damage, and environmental restoration for the tr a n s p o r ta tio n of property by motor carrier . . . ." 49 U.S.C. § 31139(b)(1) (emphasis added). Similarly, the regulations are a p p lic a b l e to "for-hire motor carriers operating motor vehicles tr a n s p o r tin g property in interstate or foreign commerce." 49 C.F.R. § 387.3(a) (emphasis added). In the present case, there is no dispute t h a t Briggs was not transporting property at the time of the a c c id e n t. Canal Ins. Co. v. P.S. Transport, Inc., 03:09-CV-0024, 2010 WL 817290, at *6 (N .D . Miss. Mar. 4, 2010). H a d Coleman not explicitly conceded that Briggs's liability was not "for the t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property," the district court would have needed to ask what t h a t phrase means. The relevant statute, § 30 of the Motor Carrier Act, in d ic a te s that its terms are to be read as "defined in section 13102 of this title." 49 U.S.C. § 31139(b). Section 13102, in turn, defines "transportation" quite b r o a d ly : (2 3 ) Transportation.--The term "transportation" includes-13 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 14 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 ( A ) a motor vehicle, vessel, warehouse, wharf, pier, dock, yard, p r o p e r t y , facility, instrumentality, or equipment of any kind related t o the movement of passengers or property, or both, regardless of o w n e r s h ip or an agreement concerning use; and (B ) services related to that movement, including arranging for, r e c e ip t , delivery, elevation, transfer in transit, refrigeration, icing, v en tila tion , storage, handling, packing, unpacking, and interchange o f passengers and property. 4 9 U.S.C. § 13102. Given the statute's broad terms, it is at least arguable that B r ig g s 's conduct at the time of the accident could be termed "transportation of p r o p e r t y ." However, because the district court accepted Coleman's stipulation t h a t it was not, we do not reach that question. D. D e s p it e the relevant statute's broad definition of "transportation," C o le m a n chose not to argue here or at the district court that Briggs was engaged in the "transportation" of property at the time of the accident. Instead, she a r g u e d for an entirely different interpretation of the MCS-90. Because her in t e r p r e t a t io n is contrary to the endorsement's plain terms, we reject it. C olem a n argues that, although the MCS-90 specifies that it covers vehicles " s u b je c t to" § 30, we should not understand § 30's terms as "prerequisites" to c o v e r a g e . She says,"The only prerequisite that should matter is whether a motor c a r r ie r is required to have a `Form MCS-90' endorsement attached to its in s u r a n c e policy." She argues that "whenever a truck operated by [a motor c a r r i e r required to carry an MCS-90] is involved in an accident," the MCS-90 s h o u ld provide coverage anytime the policy itself does not. In other words, she a r g u e s , the MCS-90 applies to a carrier's vehicles regardless of who is driving t h e m and for what purpose. To support her argument that § 30's limitations are 14 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 15 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 n o t prerequisites to coverage, she notes the following language from the en d orsem en t: t h e insurer (the company) agrees to pay, within the limits of liability d e s c r ib e d herein, any final judgment recovered against the insured fo r public liability resulting from negligence in the operation, m a in t e n a n c e or use of motor vehicles subject to the financial r e s p o n s ib il i t y requirements of Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor C a r r ie r Act of 1980 regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy and whether or not such n e g lig e n c e occurs on any route or in any territory authorized to be s e r v e d by the insured or elsewhere. 4 9 C.F.R. § 387.15 illus. 1 (emphasis added). W e reject Coleman's textual argument. The "regardless of" language she q u o t e s does not mean that the endorsement always applies. To read this clause a s such would be to obviate the clause that precedes it, which unambiguously d e lin e a t e s when the MCS-90 applies. "`It is a basic precept of statutory c o n s t r u c t io n that we should give effect to every clause and word of a statute w h e r e possible and should not construe statutes in a way that renders words or c la u s e s superfluous.'" Wheeler v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 591 F.3d 355, 375 (5th C ir . 2009) (en banc) (citing TRW Inc. v. Andrews, 534 U.S. 19, 31 (2001)). Thus, w e will not read the MCS-90's text so as to render its applicability language s u p e r flu o u s . The better reading of the regulation's "regardless of " language is this: the M C S -9 0 applies to vehicles subject to the Motor Carrier Act's financialr e s p o n s ib ilit y requirements. For those vehicles, and only for those vehicles, the M C S -9 0 provides coverage "regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is s p e c ific a lly described in the policy and whether or not such negligence occurs on a n y route or in any territory authorized to be served by the insured or 15 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 16 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 e ls e w h e r e ." Moreover, we have previously rejected Coleman's argument r e g a r d in g the MCS-90's "regardless of" language. See Garcia, 501 F.3d at 442 (" [A ]lt h o u g h the Morquechos correctly quote some of the language from the e n d o r s e m e n t , they ignore the critical phrase in the endorsement limiting the in s u r e r 's payment of judgments recovered against the insured to `public liability r e s u lt in g from negligence in the operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles s u b je c t to financial responsibility requirements of Section 18 of the Bus R e g u la to r y Reform Act of 1982. . . .'"). In addition to her textual argument, Coleman argues that our trip-specific a p p lic a t io n of the "transportation of property" limitation would lead to manifest u n fa ir n e s s . We have previously held that the federal minimum-financial- r e s p o n s ib ilit y scheme was intended to "`assure that injured members of the p u b lic would be able to obtain judgments collectible against negligent authorized c a r r ie r s .'" T.H.E. Ins. Co. v. Larsen Intermodal Servs., Inc., 242 F.3d 667, 672 (5 t h Cir. 2001) (citing Canal Ins. Co. v. First Gen. Ins. Co., 889 F.2d 604, 611 (5 t h Cir. 1989), modified on other grounds, 901 F.2d 45 (5th Cir. 1990)). The t h r u s t of Coleman's argument is that a trip-specific application of the " t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property" limitation would thwart this broad, remedial p u r p o s e of the federal minimum-financial-responsibility scheme for motor c a r r ie r s . We disagree. As a general matter, the policy goals of the federal minimum-financialr e s p o n s ib ilit y scheme are not inconsistent with our holding today that the " t r a n s p o r t a t io n of property" limitation applies on a trip-specific basis. Indeed, w e recently elaborated that the MCS-90 operates to protect the public "when a lic e n s e d carrier uses a leased vehicle to transport goods pursuant to an ICC 16 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 17 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 c e r t ific a t e ." Wells v. Gulf Ins. Co., 484 F.3d 313, 316­17 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting E m p ir e Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Guar. Nat'l Ins. Co., 868 F.2d 357, 362­63 (1 0 t h Cir. 1989)) (emphasis added). Many other courts have similarly stated the M C S -9 0 's purpose as protecting the public from vehicles while they are being u s e d for the transportation of property in interstate commerce. E.g., Travelers I n s . Co. v. Transp. Ins. Co., 787 F.2d 1133, 1140 (7th Cir. 1986) (stating that r e g u la t io n s are intended "to ensure that an ICC carrier has independent fin a n c ia l responsibility to pay for losses sustained by the general public arising o u t of its trucking operations" (emphasis added)); Herrod v. Wilshire Ins. Co., 2 0 1 0 WL 3075457, at *3 (D. Utah 2010) (noting that the Motor Carrier Act " a d d r e s s e d abuses in the trucking industry that threatened public safety, in c lu d in g motor carriers' use of `leased or borrowed vehicles to avoid financial r e s p o n s ib ilit y for accidents that occurred while goods were being transported in in te r s ta te commerce.'" (quoting Canal Ins. Co. v. Distrib. Servs., Inc., 320 F.3d 4 8 8 , 489 (4th Cir. 2003) (emphasis added))). F u r t h e r , as discussed above, the true gatekeeper of the financialr e s p o n s ib ilit y scheme's broad remedial purpose is Congress's broad definition of " t r a n s p o r t a t io n ." When Congress prescribed minimum levels of responsibility for lia b ilit y for the transportation of property, it pointed to a very particular d e fin it io n of the term. See 49 U.S.C. § 31139(b) (referring to definitions in 49 U .S .C . § 13102). That definition shows us that, in this context, "transportation" m e a n s "services related to [the] movement [of property], including arranging for, r e c e ip t , delivery, elevation, transfer in transit, refrigeration, icing, ventilation, s t o r a g e , handling, packing, unpacking, and interchange of passengers and p r o p e r t y ." 49 U.S.C. § 13102(23)(B); see also supra Part III.C. Because Coleman 17 Case: 10-60196 Document: 00511280999 Page: 18 Date Filed: 11/01/2010 No. 10-60196 s t ip u la t e d that Briggs was not engaged in the transportation of property at the t im e of the accident in this case, we have no occasion today to remark on w h e t h e r the statutory definition reaches this case. But in light of this definition, w e are confident rejecting Coleman's argument that a trip-specific approach w o u ld necessarily produce unjust results. I V . CONCLUSION T h e MCS-90 endorsement requires an insurer to pay for an insured's n e g lig e n c e only "for the transportation of property." Because the parties s t ip u la t e that Briggs was not engaged in "transportation of property" at the time o f his accident with the Colemans, the MCS-90 did not provide coverage. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the decision of the district court. 18

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.


Why Is My Information Online?