United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
CAMERON MUT. INS. CO. PLAINTIFF
STEVEN JOHNSON, et al. DEFENDANTS
O. Hickey United States District Judge
the Court is Plaintiff Cameron Mutual Insurance Company's
(hereinafter referred to as “Cameron”) Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 27). The Griffin
Claimants have filed a response. (ECF No. 35).
Cameron has replied. (ECF No. 38). The Court finds this
matter ripe for consideration.
Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (ECF No. 6) and
the present Motion for Summary Judgment seek a declaration
from the Court regarding Cameron's contractual obligation
to defend or indemnify Separate Defendant-Claimant Steven
Johnson (hereinafter referred to as “Johnson”)
for claims brought in Griffin v. Alamo, Case No.
14-cv-4065 (W.D. Ark. filed Apr. 21, 2014), an underlying
action currently pending before this Court. The Court will
first provide a brief summary of the alleged facts in the
underlying action to provide context for the instant motion.
The Griffin Action
Griffin Claimants were all children born into families that
were members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries
(“TACM”). In April 2014, the Griffin Claimants
filed suit in this Court against Tony Alamo, TACM and a host
of other individuals and business entities associated with
TACM. The Griffin Claimants have filed multiple amendments to
the original Complaint in the underlying action. The Third
Amended Complaint was filed on December 30, 2015, and is the
operative complaint. The insured, Johnson, is identified as a
defendant in the underlying action.
underlying action, it is alleged that the Griffin Claimants
were subjected to constant beatings, threats of physical
harm, and “brainwashed” to follow the tenets of
TACM by Tony Alamo and others while the Griffin Claimants
were members of TACM. The Griffin Claimants further allege
that Tony Alamo and others forced each of them to perform
labor for Defendants without compensation through force,
threats of force, physical restraint, and/or threats of
physical restraint. In addition, the Griffin Claimants allege
that individuals and business entities associated with Tony
Alamo knowingly obtained financial benefits from the Griffin
Claimants' forced labor and should have known that such
actions were illegal. The Griffin Claimants allege that they
were subjected to the aforesaid conditions by Tony Alamo and
his associates until the Griffin Claimants were removed from
the TACM compound.
Griffin Claimants seek damages for documentary servitude and
forced labor pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act's civil remedy provision, 18 U.S.C.
§ 1595. In addition, the Griffin Claimants assert
multiple causes of action arising from Arkansas law including
battery; false imprisonment; outrage/intentional infliction
of emotional distress; negligent hiring, training, retention,
and supervision; and negligence.
Cameron's Insurance Policies
in September 2004, Cameron issued insurance policies to
Johnson for residential properties located at 110 North 16th
Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas and 1108 South 21st Street, Fort
Smith, Arkansas. Both of the policies were initially issued
for the period of September 20, 2004, to September 20, 2005,
and renewed at annual intervals until September 20, 2015.
Cameron contends that the insurance policies issued to
Johnson do not apply to the allegations in the underlying
lawsuit. Based on the allegations set forth in the underlying
action, Cameron filed its complaint for declaratory judgment
pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. §§ 16-11-101, et
seq. and 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Cameron asserts that it
is entitled to the following declarations: (1) Cameron is
under no obligation to provide a defense to Johnson in
connection with the underlying action; and (2) Cameron is
under no obligation to satisfy any judgment entered against
Johnson or any other defendant in the underlying action.
Summary Judgment Standard
party moves for summary judgment, “[t]he court shall
grant summary judgment if the 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(a); Krenik v. Cty. of LeSueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957
(8th Cir. 1995). This is a “threshold inquiry of . . .
whether there is a need for trial- whether, in other words,
there are genuine factual issues that properly can be
resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably
be resolved in favor of either party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); see
also Agristor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th
Cir. 1987). A fact is material only when its resolution
affects the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it
could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either
party. Id. at 252.
Court must view the evidence and the inferences reasonably
drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d
743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the burden
of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact
and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Id. The nonmoving party must then demonstrate the
existence of specific facts in the record that create a
genuine issue for trial. Krenik, 47 F.3d at 957. A
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary