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NGM Insurance Co. v. Pillsbury

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 12, 2019

NGM INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff
v.
MARC PILLSBURY, JENNIFER PILLSBURY, JANE MANSFIELD, as personal representative of the ESTATE OF THOMAS MANSFIELD and JANE MANSFIELD, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Introduction

         NGM Insurance Company (“NGM”) has filed an action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2201 seeking a declaration of rights and obligations under an automobile insurance policy it issued to Marc Pillsbury (“M. Pillsbury”). M. Pillsbury is being sued in state court with wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits by Jane Mansfield, representative of the Estate of Thomas Mansfield (“Estate”) and Jane Mansfield (“J. Mansfield”), individually, as the result of an accident involving a car driven by M. Pillsbury. NMG seeks a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to defend or indemnify M. Pillsbury in those actions.

         This Memorandum of Decision and Order addresses Plaintiff, NGM Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 30). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is granted, in part, and denied, in part.

         Facts[1]

         Background Facts

         On July 13, 2016, J. Mansfield filed a personal injury action in Worcester Superior Court against M. Pillsbury. Thereafter, the Estate filed a separate wrongful death claim in Worcester Superior Court.[2] The complaints in both underlying matters allege that on August 3, 2013, a motorcycle operated by T. Mansfield, and carrying J. Mansfield, his wife, as a passenger, was travelling on Meadow Road in Spencer, Massachusetts when it collided with a motor vehicle (the “Ford Flex”) operated by M. Pillsbury. The registered owner of the Ford Flex was M. Pillsbury's wife, J. Pillsbury. M. Pillsbury is a self-employed sign installer and drives a 2012 Nissan which is insured by him under a policy issued by NGM.

         M. Pillsbury told officers that he was driving the Ford Flex and that he had just left a wedding at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts. There were approximately one hundred people at the wedding. Of that number. he knew “five or six.” M. Pillsbury had never done any business with those five or six people and had never had any professional or business relationship with the bride or groom. Moreover, he did not see anyone at the wedding that he interacted with through the course of any prior employment. M. Pillsbury stated that he would not have attended the wedding without his wife and he was not operating the Ford Flex in connection with his business or employment.

         At the time of the accident, both M. Pillsbury and J. Pillsbury were living at 1 Frankie Lane, North Grafton, Massachusetts. M. Pillsbury never rented or leased the Ford Flex from his wife, never hired the vehicle to do any work for his company and had no recollection of J. Pillsbury ever using her Ford Flex to run any company errands. M. Pillsbury rarely used the Ford Flex, but when he did so, he would not use it for company business. M. Pillsbury's business never gave J. Pillsbury any money in exchange for the use of the Ford Flex.

         The Policy

         NGM issued Policy No. M1T5266D, a commercial automobile policy, to M. Pillsbury, for the policy period February 13, 2013 to February 13, 2014 (the “Policy”). The Policy states that the terms “you” and “your” refer to the “Named Insured” shown in the Declarations, which in this case is “Marc Pillsbury.” The Declarations page describes M. Pillsbury's business as “sign installation and repair, ” and states that the form of business is corporation. According to M. Pillsbury he was self-employed by Northern Exposure Sign and Graphics, which is a limited liability company.

         The Policy contains the following relevant language:

SECTION I - COVERED AUTOS
Item Two of the Declarations shows the “autos” that are covered “autos” for each of your coverages. The following numerical symbols describe the “autos” that may be covered “autos”.
The symbols entered next to a coverage on the Declarations designate the only “autos” that are covered “autos”.
A. Description of Covered Auto Designation Symbols
7 - Specifically Described “Autos”[3]
Only those “autos” described in Item Three of the Declarations for which a premium charge is shown (and for Liability Coverage any “trailers” you don't own while attached to any power unit described in Item Three).
8 - Hired “Autos” Only Only those “autos” you lease, hire, rent or borrow. This does not include any “auto” you lease, hire, rent or borrow from any of your “employees”, partners (if you are a partnership), members (if you are a limited liability company) or members of their households.
9 - Non-owned “Autos” Only Only those “autos” you do not own, lease, hire, rent or borrow that are used in connection with your business. This includes “autos” owned by your “employees”, partners (if you are a partnership), members (if you are a limited liability company) or members ...

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