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UTI CORP. v. FIREMAN'S FUND INS. CO.

August 18, 1995

UTI CORPORATION, Plaintiff
v.
FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANY and AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JEROME B. SIMANDLE

 SIMANDLE, District Judge:

 This is an environmental pollution insurance coverage case which was previously the subject of three separate summary judgment motions and an accompanying cross-motion raising twelve separate issues. On March 28, 1995, the court issued a 59-page Opinion and Order denying defendants' motions on each of the twelve grounds. UTI v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., No. 92-4703, F. Supp. (D.N.J. 1995). The case is in its third year of litigation and the case is otherwise finally ready for trial. In response to a motion by plaintiff for leave to amend its complaint to cure certain inadvertent omissions and to bring the pleadings into conformity with the evidence compiled during discovery, *fn1" defendants now bring a cross-motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party under Rule 19(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. *fn2"

 The issue presented is whether the failure of plaintiff to name as a defendant the state claims-handling entity for an insolvent, non-diverse umbrella carrier which issued plaintiff an umbrella policy to which one of defendants' excess policies follows form constitutes a failure to join an indispensable party under Rule 19(b). For the reasons stated herein, we hold that it does not.

 Plaintiff seeks coverage under a series of comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies and excess liability policies for an environmental pollution claim against defendants, Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, American Insurance Company (collectively, "Fireman's Fund"), in connection with costs incurred in the clean-up of property found to have been contaminated with TCA and TCE, chemical solvents which had been stored in underground storage tanks at plaintiff's manufacturing plants. Proceeding under the theory that the chemicals leaked into groundwater and polluted neighboring property over a period of many years, starting between June, 1966 or February, 1968 and continuing until the storage tanks were closed in the fall of 1977, plaintiff sues under defendants' policies for multiple years. See Opinion filed March 28, 1995 at 4-5. *fn3"

 Plaintiff determined to proceed only against Fireman's Fund and American Insurance Companies, the defendants herein, and did not name as defendants the Home Insurance Company, Admiral Insurance Company, or American Universal Insurance Company, each of which also issued policies of insurance to UTI for the relevant years. *fn4" American Universal Insurance Company is insolvent, and the Pennsylvania Property and Casualty Insurance Guarantee Association (previously known as the Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association and referred to as "PIGA" herein) has undertaken to process claims made against American Universal pursuant to statute. 40 Pa.C.S.A. § 991.1801 et seq.5

 PIGA is non-diverse to plaintiff, *fn6" and because this court's jurisdiction is based upon diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, joinder of PIGA as a defendant would destroy subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, defendants focus only on the absence of PIGA as a named defendant, and we confine our analysis to that subject; Home and Admiral are each diverse to plaintiff, and thus plaintiff's failure to join these additional insurers at most amounts to the failure to join "necessary" parties under Rule 19(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. Because the defense of failure to join necessary parties is waived if not pleaded, see, e.g., State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Mid-Continent Cas. Co., 518 F.2d 292, 294 (10th Cir. 1975), and because defendants did not raise a Rule 19 defense in their Answer (indeed, it was never raised in any manner until initiation of the present cross-motion to dismiss), we are concerned only with the question of whether PIGA is "indispensable" to the litigation within the meaning of Rule 19(b), Fed.R.Civ.P.

 American Universal issued only a single policy to UTI during the time period we are concerned with herein. That policy is an umbrella policy which covers May 7, 1977 through May 7, 1978, and which sits directly above the Home primary insurance policy and directly below Fireman's Fund's $ 4 million excess liability policy number XLX-12698751. It is undisputed that that Fireman's Fund's excess policy "follows form" to the American Universal policy, which means that, with certain exceptions, it incorporates the terms and conditions of that policy. The question before the court is whether the party which issued the underlying umbrella policy is "indispensable" to the instant coverage action.

 Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7) provides that an action may be dismissed for failure to join an indispensable party pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 19. Fed.R.Civ.P. 19 includes a two-part test to determine whether an action may proceed without the joinder of certain persons. The Rule provides:

 
(a) Persons to be joined if feasible. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action shall be joined as a party in the action if (1) in the person's absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposition of the action in the person's absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of the claimed interest. . . .
 
(b) Determination by Court Whenever Joinder not Feasible. If a person as described in subdivision (a) (1)-(2) hereof cannot be made a party, the court shall determine whether in equity and good conscience the action should proceed among the parties before it, or should be dismissed, the absent person being thus regarded as indispensable. The factors to be considered by the court include: first, to what extent a judgment rendered in the person's absence might be prejudicial to the person or those already parties; second, the extent to which, by protective provisions in the judgment, by the shaping of relief, or other measures, the prejudice can be lessened or avoided; third, whether a judgment rendered in the person's absence will be adequate; fourth, whether the plaintiff will have an adequate remedy if the action is dismissed for nonjoinder.

 Id. A determination that parties are not necessary according to the criteria set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1) and 19(a)(2) would obviate the need for discussion of Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(b) and the action could proceed against the named defendants. Janney Montgomery Scott, Inc. v. Shepard Niles, Inc., 11 F.3d 399, 402 (3d Cir. 1993). For the reasons that follow, PIGA does not qualify as a necessary party within the meaning of Rule 19(a).

 "Under Rule 19(a), we ask first whether complete relief can be accorded to the parties to the action in the absence of the unjoined party." Id. at 405. It is clear in the present case that PIGA's absence does not impact whether complete relief can be ...


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