Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Richardson v. Zurich American Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 16, 2017

RONALD RICHARDSON
v.
ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL

         SECTION "L" (2)

          ORDER & REASONS

         Before the Court is Defendant Zurich American Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment. R. Doc. 15. Plaintiff opposes the motion. R. Doc. 17. Defendant Great American Assurance Company also opposes the motion. R. Doc. 19. The Court held oral arguments on this matter on November 15, 2017. Having considered the parties' arguments, submissions, and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order and Reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from injuries Plaintiff Ronald Richardson (“Richardson”) allegedly sustained in a collision between two 18-wheelers. Richardson Trucking LLC is a Louisiana company of which Ronald Richardson is the sole member. Richardson Trucking LLC and Ronald Richardson entered in to a one-year leasing agreement to carry loads for D & T Holdings.

         On January 13, 2016, Richardson drove his truck to Dubach, Louisiana to deliver a load of sand. Richardson drove to Greenwood, Louisiana to spend the night and have a tire replaced on the truck. He notified D & T Holdings that he had completed the delivery and needed a new tire. The D & T Holdings dispatcher told him to call after the tire was replaced and he was available for a new load. The next morning, January 14, 2016, Plaintiff was inside his truck when an unknown driver in an 18-wheeler struck Plaintiff's vehicle. R. Doc. 1-4 at 1. The unknown driver then fled the scene.

         At the time of the accident, Plaintiff alleges he was working on behalf of 1845 Oilfield Transport, LLC. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Zurich American Insurance Company (“Zurich”) provided insurance coverage to and on behalf of 1845 Oilfield Transport, LLC (“D & T Holdings”). Defendant Great American Assurance Company (“Great American”) provided underinsured/uninsured insurance coverage to Plaintiff. R. Doc. 1-4 at 2. Plaintiff claims that both insurance companies have refused to make any tender under the policies despite receiving adequate proof of loss. R. Doc. 1-4 at 3. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Zurich and Great American's failure to make tender on his claim is in bad faith and therefore he is entitled to statutory damages and attorney's fees. R. Doc. 1-4 at 4. Plaintiff brought this action in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans and Defendants removed to this Court on the basis of diversity. R. Doc. 1 at 1.

         Defendant Zurich answers and denies all allegations in Plaintiff's complaint. R. Doc. 5 at 1-2. Zurich admits it was the insurer for D & T Holdings and provided coverage to Plaintiff while his truck was being used by or for D & T Holdings. R. Doc. 5 at 2. However, Zurich alleges Plaintiff's truck was not being used by or for D & T Holdings at the time of the alleged accident. R. Doc. 5 at 2. Zurich denies that it received adequate proof of loss and is therefore not obligated to make a tender under the policy issued to D & T Holdings. R. Doc. 5 at 3-4.

         Defendant Great American answers and denies the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint. R. Doc. 6 at 1-3. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff has not provided adequate proof that the driver in the alleged accident was uninsured. Therefore Great American contends it cannot be held liable until it receives proof that Plaintiffs injuries and damages exhaust the limits of the tortfeasor's coverage. R. Doc. 6 at 1-3.

         II. PRESENT MOTION

         Defendant Zurich moves for summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against it. R. Doc. 15. Defendant argues that it is not liable to Plaintiff because Plaintiff was not “in the business” of D & T Holdings at the time of the accident, Plaintiff is covered by an insurance policy provided by Defendant Great American, and that the Great American policy is the primary UM coverage. R. Doc. 15-1 at 1. Therefore, Defendant Zurich argues that Plaintiff's claims for damages, penalties, and attorney fees should be dismissed with prejudice. R. Doc. 15-1 at 1.

         Plaintiff responds in opposition, arguing that he was acting in the business of D & T Holdings at the time of the incident and therefore, Zurich's policy covers his damages. R. Doc. 17 at 4. Plaintiff argues that he was furthering the commercial interests of D & T Holdings at the time of the accident because he was not heading home but rather to prepare the truck for more work. R. Doc. 17 at 8-9. Defendant Great American also responds in opposition. R. Doc. 19. Because the truck in question was leased by D & T Holdings for one (1) year, American argues that it is a covered auto even if it was not being used in the business of D & T Holdings at the time of the accident. R. Doc. 19 at 11. Second, Great American argues that Plaintiff was in the business of D & T Holdings at the time of the accident. R. Doc. 19 at 9.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         a. Summary Judgment Standard (Fed. R. Civ. P. 56)

         Summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, 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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Id. A party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the basis for summary judgment and identifying those portions of the record, discovery, and any affidavits supporting the conclusion that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.