Canal Insurance Company v. Yelder et al
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 1/18/12. (djy, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
CANAL INSURANCE COMPANY,
a Foreign Corporation,
PRINCE D. YELDER d/b/a
Inc., et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
Yelder, Sr., Harco National Insurance Company, and United
States Fire Insurance Company (“USFIC”), requesting the
court to find that Canal is not responsible to defend the
Yelders or pay any judgments to Harco or USFIC pursuant
Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1332
In June 2010, this court granted Canal’s motion for
declared that Canal “does not have a duty to defend or
indemnify defendants Prince Yelder (d/b/a Yelder-N-Sons
Trucking, Inc.) and Larry Yelder, Sr. ... for the June
14, 2007, automobile accident referred to in [Canal]’s
complaint in this case.”.
Canal Ins. Co. v. Yelder, 2010
WL 2488866 (M.D. Ala. 2010) (Thompson, J.).
March 2011, following a stipulation from Harco that it
USFIC is the sole remaining defendant.
This matter is before the court on USFIC’s motion to
amend its position and to dismiss this lawsuit.
reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.
In June 2007, Larry Yelder, Sr., an employee of
Yelder-N-Sons Trucking, was driving in Missouri when his
tractor-trailer collided with another truck, owned by
Tri-National Logistics, Inc.
The Tri-National truck was
damaged and its driver and passenger (Paul and Joyce
Pikey) sustained injuries in the accident.
(owner of Yelder-N-Sons Trucking) and his driver (Larry
Yelder, Sr.) were insured by Canal.
Following the accident, the Pikeys, Tri-National, and
compensation from Canal for the damages and injuries
previously asserted a subrogation claim against Canal for
benefits paid to Paul Pikey.
In March 2010, Paul Pikey filed suit against the
Yelders in Missouri state court.
After the initiation of
the Missouri litigation, USFIC filed a motion changing
its position in this court.
USFIC now contends that,
under Missouri law, any benefits paid to Paul Pikey in
the state-court litigation will be used to cover USFIC’s
USFIC’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
Missouri Highway & Trans. Comm’n v. Merritt, 204 S.W.3d
278 (Mo. App. 2006)).
According to USFIC, “Because Paul
independent personal injury claim and USFIC’s subrogation
interest, there is no ‘direct claim’ by USFIC against
Id. at 3.
Given USFIC’s admission that it no longer has a
“direct claim” against Canal and because this admission
has the force of law, see, e.g., New Hampshire v. Maine,
estoppel is an equitable doctrine designed to prevent a
party from asserting a position in later proceedings that
is inconsistent with a position upon which that party
prevailed in an earlier proceeding), the court sees no
reason not to allow the change of position.
The court further holds that not only should it, in
its discretion, decline entry of a declaratory judgment
pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §
2201, but that this litigation no longer presents a “case
Cf. Auto–Owners Ins. Co. v. Toole, 947
("Here, Toole could prevail in the underlying lawsuit.
With this result, the issue of whether Auto–Owners must
indemnify Toole would be moot, and the court would never
have to reach the issue.
‘The time and effort the court
and the parties would have expended in resolving the
issue would be wasted.
For these reasons, the court
sufficiently ripe to present a “case” or “controversy”
and that, if there were, the court would still, in the
(citation and footnote omitted);
Distributors, Inc., 733 F. Supp. 2d 1281, 1286 (M.D. Ala.
2010) (Thompson, J.) (noting that a duty to indemnify
“‘is not ripe for adjudication until the insured is in
Nationwide Ins. v. Zavalis, 52 F.3d 689, 693 (7th Cir.
The court concludes with two points.
position in the Missouri state-court litigation. Second,
underlying state-court litigation, it has no “direct
claim” against Canal for its subrogation interest.
appropriate judgment, granting USFIC’s motion to amend
its position and for dismissal of this lawsuit, will be
DONE this the 18th day of January, 2012.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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