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State Farm Automobile Insurance Co. v. Long

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

May 2, 2017

STATE FARM AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO. PLAINTIFF
v.
GRANT LONG, JR. and RALPH MATARAZZO DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is plaintiff State Farm Automobile Insurance Co.'s (“State Farm”) motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 41). Defendant Ralph Matarazzo has responded in opposition to the motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 46). Defendant Grant Long, Jr. has not responded; a default was previously entered against Mr. Long in this matter (Dkt. No. 23). For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 41).

         I. Procedural Background

         Mr. Matarazzo asserts that Mr. Long was driving a vehicle insured by State Farm when an accident occurred on May 5, 2015, in St. Francis County, Arkansas (Dkt No. 1, ¶ 5). Both Mr. Long and Mr. Matarazzo were served personally with the summons and complaint on April 27, 2015 (Dkt. Nos. 3, 4). Mr. Matarazzo filed his answer on June 2, 2015 (Dkt. No. 6). On May 16, 2016, counsel for Mr. Matarazzo filed with the Court a notice of Mr. Long's discharge in bankruptcy (Dkt. No. 21). Mr. Long is in default in this matter and has not appeared since the Clerk's entry of default (Dkt. No. 23).

         Mr. Matarazzo filed a motion to stay discovery and appoint counsel for Mr. Long (Dkt. No. 31). The Court denied that motion (Dkt. No. 52).

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from State Farm's statement of undisputed facts unless otherwise indicated (Dkt. No. 43). In Mr. Matarazzo's statement of facts, he states that “[Mr.] Matarazzo does not believe the substantive facts in the case are disputed. The facts surrounding the issuance of the policy and the underlying accident are agreed by the parties to this action. The disputes arise in the ambiguity, interpretation, and meaning of the terms of the insurance contract at issue.” (Dkt. No. 49, ¶ 1).

         State Farm issued an automobile liability insurance policy, policy number 257 6126-F24-04A (“the Policy”), to Sedrick Hicks and Ashiya Hudson with a policy period of December 2, 2013, to June 24, 2014 (Dkt. No. 41, Ex. A). Mr. Hicks and Ms. Hudson were current on all premiums owed under the Policy for the policy period. The named insureds for the Policy were Mr. Hicks and Ms. Hudson. The vehicle listed on the Declarations Page of the Policy was a 2007 Infiniti QX56.

         Mr. Long was involved in a motor/vehicle pedestrian accident with Mr. Matarazzo on May 5, 2014, in St. Francis County, Arkansas. The motor/vehicle pedestrian accident between Mr. Long and Mr. Matarazzo occurred while Mr. Long was operating and transporting the 2007 Infiniti QX56 with Ms. Hudson's consent and permission in the course and scope of his employment as owner of Grant's Car Wash. Mr. Matarazzo has filed a civil suit against Mr. Long in the Circuit Court of St. Francis County, Arkansas, case number 62CV-2014-217-2, seeking monetary damages for alleged bodily injuries he sustained as a result of the May 5, 2014, motor vehicle/pedestrian accident.

         Pursuant to the “Insuring Agreement” in the Policy, State Farm agreed to pay:

a. damages an insured becomes legally liable to pay because of:
(1) bodily injury to others; and
(2) damage to property
caused by an accident that involves a vehicle for which that insured is provided Liability Coverage by this policy.

(Dkt. No. 41-1, at 11).

“Insured” is defined in the Policy in pertinent part as:
3. Any other person for his or her use of:
a. your car,
b. a newly acquired car,
c. a temporary substitute car, or
d. a trailer while attached to a car described in a., b., or c. above.
Such vehicle must be used within the scope of your consent. . . .

(Id. at 10-11).

         You or Your is defined in pertinent part in the Policy as “the named insured or named insured shown on the Declarations Page.” (Id. at 10).

         There are various enumerated “Exclusions” in the Policy regarding coverage provided to an “insured.” One of the Exclusions precludes liability coverage for an insured:

8. WHILE MAINTAINING OR USING THE VEHICLE IN CONNECTION WITH THAT INSURED'S EMPLOYMENT IN OR ENGAGEMENT OF ANY KIND IN A CAR BUSINESS.

(Id., at 12).

         In the Policy, the term “car business” is defined as “a business or job where the purpose is to sell, lease, rent, repair, service, modify, transport, store, or park land ...


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