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Progressive Direct Insurance Co. v. Ruiz

December 10, 2009

PROGRESSIVE DIRECT INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARCELO RUIZ, ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF PROGRESSIVE DIRECT INSURANCE COMPANY'S UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 38]

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Progressive Direct Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 38]. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment as to its second claim against Defendant Marcelo Ruiz, individually and doing business as Symbolic Tours, for declaratory relief.*fn1 Plaintiff seeks a judicial declaration that it has no duty under the insurance policy at issue to pay Ruiz for any loss to or of his insured motor home as a result of an accident involving the motor home on August 19, 2007. Ruiz, who is proceeding pro se, did not file an opposition to Plaintiff's motion. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of events surrounding a serious vehicular accident involving a luxury motor home insured by Plaintiff.*fn2 Effective April 5, 2006, Plaintiff issued a vehicle insurance policy, Policy No. 14059607-0 ("the Policy"), to Ruiz. The Policy listed as a covered vehicle a 1995 Prevost motor home. At the time of issuance, the Policy listed Ruiz's mailing and garaging address as Missoula, Montana. Ruiz later changed the address to a San Diego, California location. The Policy provided standard vehicle liability coverage for losses arising out of Ruiz's ownership, maintenance, and use of the motor home. The Policy explicitly excluded coverage for losses arising out of any commercial use of the motor home, stating:

"EXCLUSIONS -- READ THE FOLLOWING EXCLUSIONS CAREFULLY. IF AN EXCLUSION APPLIES, COVERAGE WILL NOT BE AFFORDED UNDER THIS PART I.

Coverage under this Part I, including our duty to defend, does not apply to:

1. bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a vehicle or trailer while being used to carry persons or property for compensation or a fee..."

Ruiz renewed the Policy annually and the Policy was in full force and effect on August 19, 2007. On this date, an accident occurred involving the motor home, injuring eight individuals who were riding in the motor home at the time. Ruiz later informed Plaintiff's claim adjustor that he was the owner of the motor home, which was driven at the time of the accident by Michelle Walsh with his permission. Ruiz further explained that Walsh inquired after seeing his motor home parked in front of his home whether he wished to charter out the vehicle. Ruiz acted on this advice and rented the motor home to Five Star Tours, a subcontractor working with a charter company. Five Star Tours paid Ruiz for the rental. (See McMurray Decl'n. ¶¶ 2-4.)

On December 22, 2008, Plaintiff filed this action alleging two cause of action for declaratory relief, the second of which is currently at issue. Plaintiff seeks a judicial declaration that Plaintiff has no duty under the Policy to pay Ruiz for any loss to or of the motor home arising out of the August 19, 2007 accident because the Policy bars coverage for loss that occurs while the coach is being used to carry persons for compensation for a fee, which is what occurred in this case. Ruiz did not file an opposition to the motion.

DISCUSSION

1. Summary Judgment Standard

A motion for summary judgment should be granted if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The purpose of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses." Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for the motion, and identifying portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Id. at 323.

If the moving party meets its initial burden, it then shifts to the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630-31 (9th Cir. 1987). The opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986). Summary judgment is not appropriate if the non-moving party presents evidence from which a reasonable jury could resolve the disputed issue of material fact in his or her favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Barlow v. Ground, 943 F.2d ...


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