United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. Copenhaver, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
are cross-motions for summary judgment, one filed by the
plaintiff, Erie Insurance Property and Casualty Company
("Erie"), and one jointly by the three defendants
other than William Jackson Stuck who has not entered an
appearance. Both motions were filed September 17, 2018.
October 6, 2016, William Jackson Stuck shot and killed his
daughter, Sandra Kay Nichols, who for some time had been one
of his primary caretakers, and who is the mother of
defendants Allison McGinnis and Ashlee Rosas. Soon after the
shooting, Mr. Stuck called 911 at 7:00 a.m., informing the
911 operator quite clearly, at the outset of a recorded call,
of his address, that he had shot his daughter, "Sandra
Kay Nichols," and that she was a "traitor" who
was involved in stealing his money. ECF No. 49, at 0:17 and
1:20. In the course of the rambling diatribe that followed,
he described, disjointedly, bizarre plots that had been made
against himself and others. Id. at 1:20 to 5:05.
Beginning near the end of the call, Mr. Stuck succinctly
stated that his daughter's body was lying on the kitchen
floor, that he was going downstairs to shoot himself, and
that the police should come in the back door which would be
unlocked. Id. at 5:20. He then hung up. Prior to the
police's arrival at his home, Mr. Stuck shot himself,
resulting in a non-fatal wound.
noted in Detective Hunter's affidavit of October 11,
2016, attached to the state criminal complaint against Mr.
Stuck, which has been filed herein by Erie, Mr. Stuck
reported to the officers who arrived on the scene that
"he had waited on his daughter all night and he shot to
kill her when she arrived." Criminal Compl., ECF No.
37-1, at 40-41.
Stuck had previously purchased a homeowner's insurance
policy from Erie, which provides:
We will pay all sums up to the amount shown on the
Declarations which anyone we protect becomes legally
obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or
property damages caused by an occurrence during the policy
period. We will pay for only bodily injury or property damage
covered by this policy.
Policy, ECF No. 3, at 15. This policy excludes coverage for
intentional acts committed by the insured:
We do not cover under Bodily Injury Liability Coverage,
Property Damage Liability Coverage, Personal Injury Liability
Coverage and Medical Payments To Others
1. Bodily injury, property damage or personal injury expected
or intended by anyone we protect even if:
a. the degree, kind or quality of the injury or damage is
different than what was expected or intended; or b. a
different person, entity, real or personal property sustained
the injury or damage than was expected or intended.
Id. at 16.
Estate of Sandra Kay Nichols and her daughters, Ms. McGinnis
and Ms. Rosas, ("defendants"),  initiated a civil
action in state court against Mr. Stuck seeking damages for
the murder of his daughter, based on his conduct which was
alleged by the defendants (who are the plaintiffs in the
civil action) to have been "reckless, intentional with
malice aforethought." See State Court Compl.,
ECF No. 4, ¶¶ 4, 6. These same parties also alleged
in their state court complaint that Mr. Stuck reported to
local police that "he had waited on his daughter all
night and he shot to kill her when she arrived."
Id. ¶ 5.
November 2016, Dr. Timothy Saar conducted an independent
medical examination to evaluate Mr. Stuck's mental
competency to stand trial. Dr. Saar's report, which has
been filed by the defendants, acknowledges that Mr. Stuck
informed the police that "he had waited for his daughter
all night, and he shot to kill her when she arrived."
Saar Report, ECF No. 41-1, at 2. Noted in the report is Dr.
Saar's belief that Mr. Stuck likely has some form of
dementia. Id. Dr. Saar found that Mr. Stuck was
unable to complete any standardized tests due to his
cognitive impairment and delusions, id. at 4, and
that "Mr. Stuck, due to his level of confusion, was
unable to fully complete the responses [to] style
questions," id. at 5. Dr. Saar also reported
that Mr. Stuck's daughter, Sharon Lee, "stated that
her father had a long history of erratic behaviors, and had
been [in] mental health facilities twice back in the
1970's." Id. at 4. Dr. Saar ultimately