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Evanston Insurance Company v. Elisabeth Crocilla

December 26, 2012

EVANSTON INSURANCE COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELISABETH CROCILLA, INDIVIDUALLY, AND T/A A-WAY TO RELAX, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

This matter has come before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment in this insurance coverage dispute. For the reasons expressed below, plaintiff's motion will be granted, and defendant's motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Evanston Insurance Company, filed this declaratory judgment action, claiming that it does not have a duty to defend or indemnify defendant, Elisabeth Crocilla and her massage therapy business, A-Way to Relax, in a lawsuit brought by Mia Wernega against Crocilla and her business in New Jersey Superior Court, Gloucester County on September 23, 2011. In the state court action, Wernega claims that after she began to receive massage therapy by Crocilla in March 2009, Crocilla improperly touched her in a sexually explicit manner on two occasions. The first incident allegedly occurred on December 25, 2009, when Crocilla came to Wernega's home and "made sexual advances that culminated in Defendant Crocilla touching [Wernega's] private parts." The second incident allegedly occurred on December 28, 2009, when Wernega had another massage therapy session with Crocilla, and during this session, "Crocilla massaged [Wernega's] body for approximately 40 minutes before removing her covering," and then "improperly touched [Wernega] in a sexually explicit manner." Wernega claims that these incidents constituted battery, sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, professional negligence, general negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

When Crocilla's alleged conduct occurred, she was covered under a master policy of insurance issued to the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professional by Evanston Insurance Company.*fn1

After Crocilla was served with Wernega's complaint, she informed Evanston of the complaint, and sought defense and indemnification. Evanston denied Crocilla's claim and her appeal of that denial on the basis of four exclusions in the insurance policy. Evanston then brought this declaratory judgment action against Crocilla, who has lodged a cross-claim against Evanston for bad faith. Both parties have now moved for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that the materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, admissions, or interrogatory answers, demonstrate 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. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330

Because the Court finds that the insurance policy provides no coverage for the Wernega complaint, the issue is immaterial to resolution of this matter.

(1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). If review of cross-motions for summary judgment reveals no genuine issue of material fact, then judgment may be entered in favor of the party deserving of judgment in light of the law and undisputed facts. See Iberia Foods Corp. ...


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