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Hinchcliffe v. Siaotong

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 18, 2018

MARTHA HINCHCLIFFE
v.
EDNA BINABON SIAOTONG, SHELTER GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, AND PROGRESSIVE

          Appealed from the Twentieth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of West Feliciana State of Louisiana Suit Number 22735 Honorable William G. Carmichael, Presiding

          James L. Maughan Zachary, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Martha Hinchcliffe

          William C. Helm Stephen F. Butterfield Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Progressive Paloverde Insurance Company

          Phillip E. Foco Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Intervenor Stonetrust Commercial Insurance Company

          Bryan J. Haydel, Jr.Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Defendant Shelter Mutual Insurance Company

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.

          GUIDRY, J.

         In this personal injury action, plaintiff, Martha Hinchcliffe, appeals from a judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, Progressive Paloverde Insurance Company (Progressive), and dismissing her claims against it with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Edna Siaotong enrolled at Louisiana Safety and Driving Academy (LSDA) to obtain additional driver training and experience. Her driving instructor was Hinchcliffe, an employee of LSDA. On August 8, 2015, Siaotong was driving a 2012 Nissan Versa owned by LSDA and Hinchcliffe was riding in the passenger seat. While driving in a southerly direction on U.S. Highway 61, in an area where the road was being resurfaced, Siaotong lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree. At the time of the accident, LSDA had a commercial automobile insurance policy with Progressive, and Siaotong had a personal automobile insurance policy with Shelter Mutual Insurance Company (Shelter).

         Thereafter, on August 4, 2016, Hinchcliffe filed a petition for damages, naming Siaotong, Shelter, and Progressive as defendants and asserting that she sustained serious and permanently disabling injuries, including a broken leg and ankle, multiple spine fractures, and soft tissue injuries. Particularly, with regard to Progressive, Hinchcliffe asserted that LSDA was the named insured under the Progressive policy and that Siaotong was an insured under the omnibus language in the Progressive policy. Hinchcliffe further alleged that Progressive had denied coverage under an employer liability exclusion in its policy, but that the exclusion was not applicable to the instant case.

         On August 22, 2016, Stonetrust Commercial Insurance Company (Stonetrust), the worker's compensation carrier of LSDA, filed a motion for leave to file a petition of intervention. Stonetrust asserted that at the time of the accident, Hinchcliffe was an employee of LSDA working in the course and scope of her employment and that Stonetrust had paid and/or would become obligated to pay medical expenses and indemnity benefits to Hinchcliffe. The trial court granted Stonetrust leave to file its petition of intervention on August 23, 2016, which Stonetrust subsequently filed, seeking subrogation and reimbursement for worker's compensation benefits paid or to be paid on behalf of Hinchcliffe.

         Thereafter, Progressive filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that its policy of liability insurance issued to LSDA excluded coverage for Hinchcliffe's loss on the ground that the accident at issue and Hinchliffe's damages were bodily injury to an employee of "any insured" arising out of or within the course of that employee's employment by any insured or performing duties related to the conduct of any insured's business. Progressive attached a copy of its insurance policy to its motion.

         Following a hearing on Progressive's motion, the trial court signed a judgment granting summary judgment in favor of Progressive and dismissing Hinchliffe's claims against it ...


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