United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is Plaintiff United Financial
Casualty Company ("United")'s Motion for
Summary Judgment, ECF No. 25; Defendant Greg Allen Ball
("Ball")'s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment,
ECF No. 28; and Defendant Rodney Perry
("Perry")'s Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF
No. 40. Defendants Milton Hardware, LLC ("Milton
Hardware") and Builders Discount, LLC ("Builders
Discount") failed to answer United's Complaint and
are therefore in default at this time. ECF No. 22. For the
reasons set forth herein, United's Motion is
GRANTED, Ball's Motion is
DENIED, and Perry's Motion is
DENIED. The judgment of this Court shall
additionally be binding upon defaulting Defendants Milton
Hardware and Builders Discount.
facts underlying this action are not in dispute. The conduct
at issue in this case occurred on October 25, 2016. ECF No.
26, at 1; ECF No. 29, at 1; ECF No. 41, at 1. At that time,
Ball was employed by Milton Hardware and, pursuant to that
employment, was performing work on Perry's property.
Id. Perry was a Milton Hardware customer.
Id. During the course of the work on Perry's
property, someone needed to move a Milton Hardware company
truck. Id. The owner of Milton Hardware, who was
also working on site, gave Perry permission to move the
Milton Hardware truck out of the way. ECF No. 26, at 2; ECF
No. 29, at 2; ECF No. 41, at 2. With that permission, Perry
proceeded to move the Milton Hardware truck and, in doing so,
struck Ball with the truck, causing severe injuries.
Id. At the time Ball was struck and injured, Milton
Hardware had defaulted on its workers' compensation
premiums. Id. Despite having defaulted on its
workers' compensation premiums, however, Milton Hardware
had a commercial auto policy with United at the time of
Ball's injuries. Id.
Ball, and Perry now ask this Court to determine the rights
and liabilities of the parties. United asks the Court to
declare that it owes no coverage for Ball's injuries, ECF
No. 26, at 20, while Ball and Perry request that the Court
declare that United owes Ball coverage for his injuries, ECF
No. 29, at 20; ECF No. 41, at 8.
Standard of Review
United now seeks summary judgment against all defendants, ECF
No. 25, the Court notes that Defendants Milton Hardware and
Builders Discount are currently in default. As such, the
Court's authority to enter judgment against Milton
Hardware and Builders Discount is properly characterized as
the power to enter default judgment. Defendants Ball and
Perry, however, have responded to United's Complaint and
participated actively in this case. The Court's authority
to enter judgment as to these defendants, then, is properly
characterized as the power to enter summary judgment. These
respective powers are discussed below.
judgment may be entered against a defendant when that
defendant fails "to plead or otherwise defend" his
or her case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. "[T]rial judges are vested
with discretion, which must be liberally exercised, in
entering [default] judgments. . ." United States v.
Moradi, 673 F.2d 725, 727 (4th Cir. 1982). Default
judgment may be granted even in declaratory judgment actions.
See American Select Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 445
F.Supp.2d 681 (N.D.W.Va. 2006).
judgment, on the other hand, may be entered when a
"movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Summary judgment may
not be granted where the evidence is "such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Summary judgment should be granted,
however, when, drawing all inferences in a light most
favorable to the non-movant, "the record as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-movant." Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820,
823 (4th Cir. 1991).
time of Ball's injuries, Milton Hardware had defaulted on
its workers' compensation premiums. ECF No. 26, at 2; ECF
No. 29, at 2; ECF No. 41, at 2. At the same time, however,
Milton Hardware held an active commercial auto insurance
policy with United. Id. United issued the relevant
policy (Commercial Auto Insurance Policy Number 02964608-0)
to Milton Hardware and Builders Discount for the period April
7, 2016 to April 7, 2017. ECF No. 25-2. The policy provides
liability coverage to others for bodily injury and property
damage up to $1, 000, 000; legal liability coverage to others
for bodily injury and property damage up to $1, 000, 000; and
medical payments in the amount of $5, 000 for each person.
are several exclusions listed in the policy, however.
See ECF No. 25-2. First, the policy includes a
workers' compensation exclusion. The policy states,
"[Liability coverage], including our duty to defend,
does not apply to . . . [a]ny obligation for which an
insured. . . may be held liable under workers'
compensation ... law..." Id. The policy goes on
to state that liability coverage does not apply to "[a]n
employee of any insured" where that employee's
injuries "aris[e] out of or within the course of [t]hat
employee's employment by [the] insured. . ."
Id. The policy also includes a limit of liability
for uninsured motorists, noting that "the amount of
damages that an insured is ...