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Allstate Insurance Company v. Ellery Chacksfield

April 16, 2013

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELLERY CHACKSFIELD,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Anthony J. Battaglia U.S. District Judge

ORDER: (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF ALLSTATE INSURANCE ) COMPANY'S MOTION FOR ) SUMMARY JUDGMENT, (Doc. No 14); AND (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT ELLERY CHACKSFIELD'S ) MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, (Doc. No. 17).

Plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company ("Plaintiff") brings this diversity action against Defendant Ellery Chacksfield ("Defendant"), seeking declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on January 4, 2013, (Doc. No. 14), and Defendant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on January 7, 2013, (Doc. No. 17). Both motions were fully briefed and are currently before the Court. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1, the Court found both motions suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument. Accordingly, the motion hearing set for March 21, 2013 was vacated. After a thorough review of the papers, supporting documentation, and applicable law, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 14), and GRANTS Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 17). The Clerk of the Court is instructed to enter judgment and close the case.

BACKGROUND

This is a dispute over insurance coverage, whereby the parties disagree over whether Robert Hammers ("Robert") was a resident of Gordon Hammers' ("Gordon") household, and thereby covered under Gordon's Personal Umbrella Insurance Policy ("PUP").*fn1 Because none of the material facts at issue in the case are in dispute, the Court sets forth: (1) the living arrangements between Robert and Gordon; (2) the automobile accident and the underlying judgment in San Diego Superior Court between Robert's estate and Defendant; and (3) the terms of the PUP.*fn2

Living Arrangements By and Between Robert and Gordon

Gordon owns an eleven-acre property in rural San Diego County (the "Property").*fn3

The Property is home to three residences: (1) Gordon's 2,500 square-foot main residence located at 860 Harris Ranch Road; (2) Timothy (Gordon's son) and his wife's 1,200 square-foot smaller residence located at 862 Harris Ranch Road; and (3) Gordon's 22-foot travel trailer Robert was allowed to live in. (Doc. No. 14, Vida Decl., Ex. A, Gordon Depo. at 30:4-31:23, 54:2-55:23, 62:13-15; Doc. No. 17, O'Nell Decl., Ex. C, Gordon Depo. at 62:11-14.) The travel trailer was located less than 100 yards from the main residence and 200 to 300 yards from the smaller residence. (Doc. No. 17, O'Nell Decl. at 28:8-15, 62:11-15; Doc. No. 14, Vida Decl. at 62:11-14.) The entire Property is surrounded by a five-foot-high barbed wire fence, which acts as a boundary to keep animals from passing over the land. (Doc. No. 17, O'Nell Decl. at 83:15-84:5; Doc. No. 14, Vida Decl. at 83:15-84:5.)

The Accident and the Underlying State Court Action

On December 30, 2008, Robert was involved in a broadside collision with a motorcycle driven by Defendant Chacksfield (the "Accident"). (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 6; Doc. No. 14, Rivera Decl. ¶ 3.) At the time of the Accident, Robert was driving a 1989 Ford Crown Victoria (the "Vehicle"), which was owned by Gordon, and insured by an automobile insurance policy issued to Gordon by Plaintiff (the "Automobile Policy").

.) As a result of the Accident, Defendant sustained personal injuries and property damage to his motorcycle. (Doc. No. 14, Rivera Decl. ¶ 8.)Prior to the Accident, Gordon completed a release of liability for the Vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and told Robert to transfer the registration for the Vehicle into Robert's name. (Doc. No. 14, Vida Decl., Ex. A, Gordon Depo. at 48:1-9.) Robert never completed the transfer, which Gordon was unaware of, and at the time of the Accident, the Vehicle was still registered to Robert. (Id.)On January 7, 2010, Robert passed away from causes unrelated to the Accident. (Doc. No. 1 ¶7; Doc. No. 17 at 3.)

On March 11, 2010, Defendant filed suit in San Diego Superior Court against Robert's estate, seeking monetary relief for personal injuries and property damages sustained as a result of the Accident (the "State Court Action"). (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 8.) According to the terms of the Automobile Policy, Plaintiff agreed to defend and indemnify Robert's estate in the State Court Action up to the $100,000.00 policy limit.*fn4 On or about September 15, 2011, Defendant obtained judgment in the State Court Action against Robert's estate in the amount of $204,123.75. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Of this amount, Plaintiff agreed to pay $85,000.00, as $15,000.00 had already been paid to settle Defendant's claims against Gordon. (Id. at ¶ 12.) This left $119,123.75 remaining, which Defendant sought to recover from Plaintiff under Gordon's PUP. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff refused to pay this amount, arguing Robert is not covered under the PUP because he is not a resident of Gordon's household.

Terms of the Policy

Under the terms of the PUP, Plaintiff is obligated to "pay damages which an insured person becomes legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury, personal injury or property damage," arising out of a covered occurrence. (Doc. No. 14, Rivera Decl., Ex. 3, PUP at 5.) The PUP defines "insured person" as:

a) You, and any other person who is named on the Policy Declarations;

b) any person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is aresident of your household; or

c) any dependent person in your care, if that person is a resident of your household. . at 2). The PUP further defines "you" and "your" as "the person named on the policy declarations as the insured and that person's resident spouse," and an "occurrence" as an "accident during the policy period . . . resulting in bodily injury, personal injury or property damage." ...


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