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Depositors Insurance Co. v. Ubrina

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 15, 2019

Depositors Insurance Company, Plaintiff,
Christina Ubrina, et al., Defendants.


          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff Depositors Insurance Company (Doc. 67) and the Cross Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant H&E Equipment Services, Inc. (Doc. 70). For the following reasons, Depositors' Motion is denied, and H&E's Cross Motion is granted.


         I. The Accident and the Underlying Lawsuit

         The Lower Buckeye Jail needed washing and painting, so Riddle Painting was hired to do the job. Riddle did not own all the equipment needed, so it leased a mobile lift from H&E Equipment Services. Riddle's project at the jail went tragically wrong. One day, as two Riddle employees were driving the lift, it tipped over, killing both men. As required by law, the beneficiaries of Riddle's deceased employees received Arizona's workers' compensation benefits. The workers' compensation statute prevented the families from suing Riddle, but the statute did not shield H&E. So the families sued H&E in Arizona state court.

         H&E requested that Riddle's general liability insurer, Depositors Insurance Company, defend H&E in the state-court action and pay any damages for which it might eventually be held liable. Depositors agreed to cover half of the cost of H&E's defense but reserved its right to file a separate lawsuit to determine whether it owed H&E a duty to defend or indemnify. Depositors then filed this lawsuit to resolve those questions. H&E filed a counterclaim, asserting that Depositors owes it duties to defend, reimburse, and indemnify, as well as a single claim of breach of contract.

         II. The Lease Agreement and the Additional Insured Endorsements

         The lease agreement between Riddle and H&E obligated Riddle to do certain things. First, Riddle was required to maintain and inspect the lift in compliance with its owner's manual, and “inform[] all potential operators of the [lift] of said instructions, signs and limitations.” (Doc. 70-1 at 27.) Next, Riddle had to purchase and maintain general liability insurance, and provide coverage to H&E as an additional insured. (Id.) Lastly, Riddle was required to indemnify and hold H&E harmless for all claims arising from the use, operation, or condition of the lift, including all damages or injuries to property or people. (Id.)

         Riddle purchased a general liability insurance policy (“CGL policy”) from Depositors. The CGL policy contained two provisions at issue in these motions: a Blanket Additional Insured Endorsement and a Contractors Enhancement Plus Endorsement. Both endorsements have multiple requirements and limitations on who counts as an additional insured under the contract, but the first requirement for both is the same: in order to be covered as an additional insured, the party seeking coverage must have signed a valid, written agreement with Riddle that required Riddle to add the party as an additional insured. (Doc. 70-1 at 212; 216.)[1]

         The other limitations on coverage under the two endorsements differed. The Blanket Endorsement limited coverage by only applying to “liability for ‘bodily injury' or ‘property damage' caused, in whole or in part, by ‘your [i.e., Riddle's] work' for the additional insured.” (Id. at 212.) As relevant here, the Contractor's Endorsement limited coverage by only applying “to the extent [Riddle is] held liable due to . . . [m]aintenance, operation or use of equipment leased to [Riddle] by [H&E].” (Id. at 216.)


         I. Legal Standards

         A principal purpose of summary judgment is to identify factually unsupported claims and dispose of them. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         “[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the movant meets that burden, the party opposing summary judgment must then “cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record” that establish a genuine factual dispute or “show[] that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(1). If the opposition fails to do so, the court is not required to comb through the record on its own to come up with reasons to ...

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