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Markel International Insurance Co., Ltd. v. Centex Homes

February 1, 2006

MARKEL INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, LTD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CENTEX HOMES, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brown, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the cross motions for summary judgment filed by Markel International Insurance Company, Ltd. (Markel) and Centex Homes, LLC ("Centex"). The issues before this Court are: (1) whether Markel owes a defense and indemnification to Centex as an "additional insured" under an insurance policy Markel issued to Centex's subcontractor, Alpha Contractors; (2) whether Markel acted in bad faith when it denied Centex's request for a defense and indemnification; and (3) whether the Court should allow Centex to engage in additional discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f). The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Court, having considered the parties' submissions and having decided this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78, and for the reasons discussed below, will grant Markel's motion for summary judgment and deny Centex's motion for summary judgment. The Court will also deny Centex's request for additional discovery.

I. BACKGROUND

Markel is a company duly organized and existing under the laws of the United Kingdom, with its principal place of business located in London, England. (Pl's SMF ¶ 1.)*fn1 Centex is a limited liability company duly organized and existing under the laws of Delaware, with its principal places of business in Dallas, Texas and Manalapan, New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 2.) During the relevant time period, Centex was building a residential housing development in Marlborough Township, New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 11.) Centex hired Alpha Contractors to build masonry posts for a fence at the site. (Id.) Alpha Contractors hired subcontractor Piotr Bielawsky to work at the site. (Id.)

Markel issued a policy of commercial general liability insurance to Alpha Contractors, with an effective policy period from January 7, 2001 to January 7, 2002. (Id. ¶ 3.) The policy provides for a defense and indemnification of Alpha Contractors for all negligence claims against Alpha, subject to certain terms, conditions, and exclusions. (Id. ¶ 5.) The policy includes an endorsement adding Centex as an additional insured under the policy. (Id. ¶ 6.) The endorsement provides that Centex is included as an "insured" under the policy issued to Alpha Contractors, but "only with respect to liability arising out of [Alpha Contractors'] operations or premises owned by or rented to [Alpha Contractors]." (Id. ¶ 7.)*fn2

On July 27, 2001, Mr. Bielawsky was in a motor vehicle collision after leaving the job site to go home at the end of the work day. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 35.) Mr. Bielawsky's motor vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by Kerri Anne Buckley on Dutch Lane Road, adjacent to the construction site. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 11.) The passenger in Ms. Buckley's vehicle, Christine Gierlowski, suffered serious bodily injury in the accident. (Id. ¶ 9.) After the accident, Ms. Gierlowski filed suit against Mr. Bielawsky and Ms. Buckley in the Superior Court of New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 10.)

The policeman who investigated the accident, Patrolman Wolstromer, wrote in his police report that the trees and underbrush along the road's edge of the construction site obstructed Ms. Buckley's view of oncoming traffic. (Id. ¶ 21.) Patrolman Wolstromer and Mr. Bielawsky also testified during their depositions that the trees and brush obstructed Mr. Bielawsky's view while driving. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)

Alpha Contractors was not engaged by Centex or anyone else to clear any brush or trees at the job site. (Id. ¶ 15.) Alpha Contractors did not own or rent the premises at the job site. (Id. ¶ 30.) Mr. Bielawsky was also not engaged by Alpha Contractors, Centex, or anyone else to clear any brush or trees at the job site. (Id. ¶ 18.)

Based on the evidence that Centex's trees and brush obscured the drivers' views, counsel for Mr. Bielawsky filed a Third Party Complaint against Centex and other entities seeking contribution and indemnification for the accident. (Pl's Ex. K, ¶¶ 14-18.) Centex seeks a defense and indemnification from Markel as an additional insured under the policy Markel issued to Alpha Contractors. (Pl's SMF ¶ 8.) Markel has commenced the present action seeking a declaratory judgment that it does not owe Centex a defense and indemnification under the policy.

II. DISCUSSION

A party seeking summary judgment must "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);accord Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). The threshold inquiry is whether "there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (noting that no issue for trial exists unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict in its favor). In deciding whether triable issues of fact exist, the Court must view the underlying facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. SeeMatsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Pennsylvania Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995); Hancock Indus. v. Schaeffer, 811 F.2d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1987).

Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part:

When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party.

FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e). The rule does not increase or decrease a party's ultimate burden of proof on a claim. Rather, "the determination of whether a given factual dispute requires submission to a jury must be guided by the substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the case." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Under the rule, a movant must be awarded summary judgment on all properly supported issues identified in its motion, except those for which the nonmoving party has provided evidence to show that a question of material fact remains. SeeCelotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Put another way, once the moving party has properly supported its showing of no triable issue of fact and of an entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, for example, with affidavits, which may be "supplemented . . . by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits," id. at 322 n.3, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; seealso Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (stating ...


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