State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Denmark et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Chief Judge Karon O Bowdre on 2/23/16. (SAC )
2016 Feb-23 PM 04:49
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
STATE FARM FIRE AND
CAROLYN DENMARK, et. al.,
) Case No: 2:13-cv-1835-KOB
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on January 8, 2016 (doc. 46),
recommending that the court grant State Farm’s motion for summary judgment regarding
Defendant Carolyn Denmark’s underlying personal injury action currently pending in state court
and deny as moot the motion regarding the underlying wrongful death action that has been settled
and dismissed (doc. 29); deny as moot Denmark’s motion to compel (doc. 36); and issue an
Order declaring State Farm has no duty to defend or indemnify the Wren Defendants for the
claims asserted against them in Denmark’s underlying personal injury action. On January 20,
2016, Denmark filed “Objections and Motion to Alter, Amend and Vacate a Portion of the Trial
Court’s Order Issued on January 8, 2016.” (Doc. 47).
Denmark’s objections that the magistrate judge erred in only considering the policy
submitted by State Farm are OVERRULED. State Farm’s certified policy is the only one offered
in effect at the time of the accident. Wren submitted no evidence that the portions of the policy
she submitted were in effect at the time of the accident and, thus, could not have supported
coverage. The magistrate judge did consider language from those policies in footnotes and
correctly concluded that the result would have been the same under either policy. (See doc. 46,
fns 9, 11, 13).
Moreover, the insured—or one seeking coverage—has the burden to prove coverage. See
FCCI, Inc. v. Captstone Process Sys., LLC, 49 F. Supp. 3d 995, 998 (N.D. Ala. 2014) (citing
Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. Collins, 194 So. 2d 532, 535 (Ala. 1967)). Without State Farm’s
certified policy, no proof exists that any coverage was in effect at the time of the accident.
Therefore, the court, after careful consideration, OVERRULES all of Denmark’s objections and
finds that her motion to vacate portions of the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation is
due to be DENIED (doc. 47).
The court has carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the court file,
including the report and recommendation and Denmark’s objections. The court ADOPTS the
magistrate judge’s report and ACCEPTS her recommendations.
Specifically, the court finds no genuine issues of material fact that the Wrens were not
insured under the business policy in effect on the date of the accident for the following reasons:
(1) The policy states that “. . . any Executive Officer . . . is not an insured for any auto
owned or leased by such officer . . . or a member of his or her household.” (Doc. 29-1 at 83).
Because the car involved in the accident driven by Mrs. Wren was owned by her husband, the
court finds that the Wrens were not insured under the policy;
(2) Mrs. Wren was not insured as explained above; therefore, the court finds irrelevant
whether she was conducting business of the salon at the time of the accident; and alternatively
(3) The court finds that the Auto Exclusion precludes coverage because the bodily injury
arose “out of the. . . use . . . of any . . . auto . . . owner or operated by . . . any insured [Wren]”
and no exception to the exclusion applies.
Based on these findings, the court agrees with the magistrate judge that summary
judgment for State Farm is due to be GRANTED regarding Denmark’s underlying personal
injury action currently pending in state court and DENIED AS MOOT regarding the underlying
wrongful death action that has been settled and dismissed; that Denmark’s motion to compel is
due to be DENIED AS MOOT; and that the court should ENTER an Order declaring that State
Farm has no duty to defend or indemnify the Wren Defendants for the claims asserted against
them in Denmark’s underlying personal injury action.
The court will enter a separate Order in conformity with this Memorandum Opinion.
DONE and ORDERED this 23rd day of February, 2016.
KARON OWEN BOWDRE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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