United Specialty Insurance Company v. Keysboat, Inc. et al
ORDER denying 25 Motion for Default Judgment. Signed by Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr on 10/16/2017. (ail)
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
United Specialty Insurance
) Civil Action No. 17-21760-Civ-Scola
Keysboat, Inc. d/b/a Summerland
Seafood and Ginny’s Antiques, and
Order Denying Motion for Default Judgment
This matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Default
Judgment as to Respondent Russell Leon Bryant (ECF No. 25). Having
considered the motion and accompanying exhibits, the record, and the relevant
legal authorities, the Court denies the motion (ECF No. 25).
As an initial matter, the Court notes that its Order on Default Judgment
Procedure required that the Plaintiff file a proposed order granting the motion
for default judgment (ECF No. 24). The Plaintiff failed to file a proposed order.
More importantly, however, it does not appear that the Plaintiff has standing to
pursue this action against Defendant Bryant.
The Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment against Keysboat, Inc.,
doing business as Summerland Seafood and Ginny’s Antiquess (“Keysboat”);
Michael Garel, individually and as personal representative for the estate of
Arthur Garel; and Russell Leon Bryant. Michael Garel has filed suit against
Keysboat in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Monroe County, Florida.
(Compl. Ex. A, ECF No. 1-4.) Garel seeks damages on behalf of Arthur Garel,
who drowned while fishing on a vessel that he rented from Keysboat. (Id.)
Plaintiff United Specialty Insurance Company (“United Specialty”) subsequently
filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to defend
and/or indemnify Keysboat in the state court action. Keysboat and Garel filed
answers to the Complaint, but the Clerk has entered a default against Bryant.
The Complaint alleges that Bryant was a passenger on the vessel along
with Arthur Garel and “may have suffered injuries and/or have claims against
Respondent Keysboat.” (Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 1.) The Complaint asserts that
Bryant “may have an interest in the outcome of the instant declaratory action.”
(Id.) However, Bryant is not a party to the state court action, and there is no
indication in the Complaint that Bryant has attempted to assert any claims
The Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, provides that “[i]n a
case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction,” a court may “declare the
rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such a
declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought.” The Supreme
Court has held that, in determining whether a “controversy” as contemplated
by the Declaratory Judgment Act exists, a court must determine whether “the
facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial
controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient
immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”
Maryland Cas. Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273 (1941) (citing
Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 239-42 (1937)). Where the
defendant has no interest in the case and/or when no conflict exists in the
case, courts have found that there is no controversy within the meaning of the
Declaratory Judgment Act. See Provident Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. TransamericaOccidental Life Ins. Co., 850 F.2d 1489-1491 (11th Cir. 1988) (citations
Bryant is not a party to the state court lawsuit that Garel filed against
Keysboat, nor is Bryant a party to the insurance contract between United
Specialty and Keysboat. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Moreover, the Complaint only alleges
that Bryant “may have suffered injuries and/or have claims” against Keysboat.
(emphasis added) (Id. ¶ 11.) This is insufficient to establish that there is a
substantial controversy involving Bryant “of sufficient immediacy and reality to
warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.” Maryland Case. Co., 312 U.S.
Accordingly, the Court denies the motion for default judgment (ECF No.
25). If United Specialty disagrees with the Court’s analysis of Defendant
Bryant’s standing, it may file an amended motion for default judgment. The
amended motion must address the issue of standing and must include a
proposed order granting default judgment. If United Specialty does not file an
amended motion for default by October 26, 2017, the Court will dismiss this
action as to Defendant Bryant.
Done and ordered in chambers, at Miami, Florida, on October 16, 2017.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
Russell Leon Bryant
25169 41st Street
Summerland Key, FL 33042
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