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Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Great Northern Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 25, 2014

INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Plaintiff,
v.
GREAT NORTHERN INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

For Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, Plaintiff: Michael Menapace, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Wiggin and Dana LLP, Hartford, CT; Michael P. Thompson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joshua B. Walls, Wiggin and Dana, LLP, Stamford, CT.

For Great Northern Insurance Company, Defendant: Jennifer C. Sheehan, Richard J. Shea, Hamel, Marcin, Dunn, Reardon & Shea, PC, Boston, MA.

Page 77

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Denise J. Casper, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (" ISOP" ) has filed this lawsuit against Defendant Great Northern Insurance Company (" Great Northern" ) seeking a declaration as to the applicability of the doctrine of equitable contribution to insurers with concurrent insurance policies issued to the same insured. D. 1 ¶ ¶ 1-2. Both parties have now moved for summary judgment. D. 22, 28. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES ISOP's motion and ALLOWS Great Northern's motion.

II. Standard of Review

The Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). " A fact is material if it carries with it the potential to affect the outcome of the suit under applicable law." Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp., 217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the movant

Page 78

meets its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations or denials in its pleadings, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986), but must come forward with specific admissible facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-Isern, 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). The Court " view[s] the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing reasonable inferences in his favor." Noonan v. Staples, Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009). " When deciding cross-motions for summary judgment, the court must consider each motion separately, drawing inferences against each movant in turn." Reich v. John Alden Life Ins. Co., 126 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 1997).

III. Factual Background and Procedural History

The material facts are not disputed here. On January 26, 2010, an employee of the insured, Progression, Inc. (" Progression" ), was injured in a car accident in the Sultanate of Oman. Pl. Rule 56.1 Statement, D. 23 ¶ ¶ 3, 5-6. The employee pursued a workers' compensation claim before the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (the " DIA" ). Id. ¶ 7. ISOP paid and continues to pay worker's compensation benefits to the employee pursuant to a worker's compensation and employer's liability policy it issued to Progression. Id. ¶ ¶ 4, 8, 10. Great Northern had issued a concurrent worker's compensation insurance policy to Progression. Id. ¶ 11. The Great Northern policy also covered the employee's claim, but Progression, the insured, never tendered the employee's claim to Great Northern. Id. ¶ ¶ 12, 18; D. 28-1 ¶ 4; D. 31 ¶ 4.[1]

At some point, ISOP became aware of the insured's Great Northern insurance policy. D. 23 ¶ 20. On October 3, 2011, ISOP sent a letter to Great Northern tendering the employee's claim and seeking defense and indemnity of Progression. Id.; D. 24-1 at 24-25. ISOP indicated in its tender request that the claim was pending before the DIA. D. 24-1 at 24. In a reply dated March 15, 2012, Great Northern denied coverage of the claim. D. 23 ¶ 21; D. 24-1 at 46-47. Great Northern stated that it " fully expect[ed] [ISOP] to continue handling the claim pursuant to its obligations under" its policy issued to Progression. D. 24-1 at 46. Great Northern further stated that it was advised by its insured that " Progression in fact intended the tender of the [] claim to [ISOP] at the time that it was originally made." Id. at 47. In addition, " Progression advised they did not authorize [ISOP] to report the [] claim, nor make tender of it, to Great Northern." Id. Finally, Great Northern wrote that it saw no practical reason for it to assume the handling of the claim given that ISOP had actively adjusted the loss. Id.

ISOP instituted this action on November 7, 2013, seeking a determination of the applicability of the doctrine of equitable contribution under Massachusetts law. D. 1. ISOP has now moved for summary judgment, D. 22, and ...


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