The Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company v. Jones et al
OPINION AND ORDER that: (1) Plaintiff Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company's alternative motion to stay 59 is granted to the extent that this case is stayed as to the no-duty-to-indemnify claim against all defendants as further set out ; (2) Plaintiff Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company's no-duty-to-defend claim against all defendants, except defendants Charles E. Jones, Charles H. Jones, and Penny Jones, appears to be still pending and is thus not stayed. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 6/7/2013. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(jg, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, SOUTHERN DIVISION
THE TRAVELERS HOME AND,
MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY
CHARLES E. JONES; et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
It is ORDERED that:
(1) Plaintiff Travelers Home and Marine Insurance
Company’s alternative motion to stay (doc. no. 59) is
granted to the extent that this case is stayed as to the
Should this declaratory-judgment action become ripe for
adjudication, as set out in this opinion, Travelers may
move to have this court lift the stay.
(2) Plaintiff Travelers Home and Marine Insurance
Company’s no-duty-to-defend claim against all defendants,
except defendants Charles E. Jones, Charles H. Jones, and
Penny Jones, appears to be still pending and is thus not
pending state-court lawsuit.
Travelers contends that,
regardless of the ultimate outcome of the state-court
lawsuit, the insurance company has no duty to indemnify
As the insurance company recognizes,
this court has refused to decide insurance disputes like
this one before because “[the defendants] could prevail
in the underlying lawsuit.
With this result, the issue
of whether [the insurance company] must indemnify [the
defendants] would be moot, and the court would never have
to reach the issue....
For these reasons, the court
sufficiently ripe to present a ‘case’ or ‘controversy.’”
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Toole, 947 F. Supp. 1557, 1566
(M.D. Ala. 1996) (Thompson, J.); see also Nationwide Ins.
v. Zavalis, 52 F.3d 689, 693 (7th Cir. 1995) (“the duty
to indemnify is not ripe for adjudication until the
Travelers contends that that result should not follow
because this court should instead adopt the approach
taken in Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co. v. Dapper, LLC, 2010
WL 2925779 (M.D. Ala. July 21, 2010) (Moorer, M.J.).
that case, the court began by noting that no-duty-todefend
there, the former was ripe for adjudication while the
substantive analysis required to resolve the ripe claim
likewise resolved the unripe claim, the court elected to
decide the unripe claim anyways.
Id. at 8.
words, the court decided the unripe claim because doing
so was ancillary to another matter properly before the
However, no such circumstances are present here.
Travelers’s no-duty-to-defend claim, that judgment was
merely a default one and it did not require the court to
Harleysville is inapposite and that case does not stand
adjudicate unripe claims regardless of the circumstances.
The other case Travelers cites, Evanston Ins. Co. v.
Lett, 2012 WL 4927958 (S.D. Ala. Oct. 15, 2012) (Steele,
J.), is no more availing.
Because Travelers’s no-duty-to-indemnify claim is
unripe, this court will not decide it now.
discretion under that statute to resolve a matter, the
court will exercise its discretion to decline resolving
See Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277,
obligatory about the assumption of ‘jurisdiction’ by a
federal court to hear a declaratory judgment action,” a
district court is authorized in the sound exercise of its
declaratory judgment before trial) (citation omitted).
In the interest of judicial economy, this case should
be stayed instead of dismissed so that, should the noduty-to-indemnify claim become ripe, it is unnecessary to
otherwise take those steps needed to begin a lawsuit.
DONE, this the 7th day of June, 2013.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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