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Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v. Tate Andale, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 7, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
TATE ANDALE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          A. David Copperthite United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff, Tate Andale, Inc., moves this Court for summary judgment ("'Defendant's Motion") (ECF No. 50). Defendant seeks a ruling from the Court that it has produced clear and positive evidence of the existence and terms of insurance policies allegedly issued by Plaintiff. Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant, Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company, filed an opposition to Defendant's Motion and a cross-motion for summary judgment ("Plaintiffs Cross-Motion") (ECF No. 52).

         After considering the motions and responses thereto (ECF Nos. 51, 53, 55, 57), the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). In addition, having reviewed the pleadings of record and all competent and admissible evidence submitted by the parties, the Court finds that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to the claims asserted. Accordingly, the Court will DENY Defendant's Motion (ECF No. 50) and DENY Plaintiffs Cross-Motion (ECF No. 52).

         Factual Background

         This lawsuit arises out of a controversy surrounding the existence and terms of commercial liability insurance policies allegedly issued by Plaintiff to Defendant for coverage stemming from 1958 to 1964. Defendant is a Maryland corporation that was incorporated in 1957 under the name Temco Machine Works, Inc. ECF No. 50-6 at 2-4. In 1966, Temco Machine Works, Inc. changed its name to Tate Temco. Inc. Id. at 7. In 1985, Tate Temco, Inc. changed its name to Tate Andale, Inc., which is Defendant's current operating name. Id. at 11-12. Defendant designs and manufactures a variety of industrial products, including industrial strainers and filters, and has "used asbestos-containing materials in its[J industrial processes and/or products." ECF No. 1 at 3; ECF No. 22 at 8. Plaintiff is a Pennsylvania corporation that sells an array of insurance coverage.[1] See ECF No. 1 at 1, 3.

         On October 17.2016. Defendant wrote a letter to Plaintiff which claimed that Plaintiff and its predecessor issued six insurance policies providing commercial liability coverage to Defendant effective September 20, 1958 to March 9, 1964 and that under these policies, Plaintiff was obligated to indemnify Defendant for asbestos claims by third parties. ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3. On December 6, 2016, Defendant sent Plaintiff a correspondence alleging that it had settled multiple asbestos-related claims within the coverage of the alleged policies for $1, 720, 000, plus $1, 606, 106 in defense costs, and demanding that Plaintiff "immediately acknowledge and fulfill its coverage obligations." ECF No. 1-2 at 3-4. Plaintiff subsequently searched its business records and did not find anything to support Defendant's claim that Plaintiff issued any commercial liability insurance policies to Defendant. ECF No. 1 at 4-5; ECF No. 53-6, ¶¶ 12-19; ECF No. 53-19, ¶¶ 2-8. Defendant then provided copies of "'secondary evidence" purported to support its position, including an insurance schedule prepared by its insurance broker, a notice of claim, and a February 18, 1994 letter from Plaintiff, but not a copy of the alleged policies because Defendant does not possess a copy.[2] ECF No. 22 at 9-10.

         Additionally. Defendant provided several documents relating to an asbestos bodily injury claim brought by Charles Danielson around 1986. ECF Nos. 50-14, 50-15. 50-16, 50-17, 50-18. 50-19, 50-20. Included in these documents is a check dated August 6, 1987 that appears to be issued by Plaintiff to Defendant in the amount of $833.54 for "[p]ro-rata share of incurred expenses" in the Danielson claim. ECF No. 50-18 at 3. Defendant relies upon this check and the other Danielson documents to demonstrate that Plaintiff had previously provided coverage for an asbestos-related claim during the relevant period. ECF No. 50-1 at 10-11.

         Procedural Background

         On March 9. 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Defendant, seeking a declaratory' judgment that Plaintiff did not issue any commercial liability policy of insurance to Defendant and that if any policy existed. Defendant was not entitled to coverage under such policy, plus a reservation of rights count. ECF No. 1. On May 12, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs reservation of rights count. ECF No. 8. Upon reviewing the motion and the responses thereto (ECF Nos. 12, 13), on February 6, 2018, the Court granted Defendant's motion, dismissing the reservation of rights count of Plaintiff s complaint. ECF No. 21.

         On February 21, 2018, Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim. ECF No. 22.[3] The counterclaim sought a declaratory judgment that Plaintiff issued the commercial liability policies of insurance and is obligated to provide coverage for costs associated with past, present, and future asbestos litigation. Id. at 13-14. The counterclaim also included a claim for breach of contract and statutory failure to act in good faith pursuant to section 3-1701 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code. Id. at 14-16. Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss on March 14, 2018. ECF No. 32. On March 28, 2018, Defendant opposed the motion to dismiss, ECF No. 34. and on April 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply, ECF No. 35. In a memorandum opinion dated April 19, 2018, the Court granted the motion in part and denied in part, dismissing only the statutory failure to act in good faith claim. ECF No. 36.

         On October 5, 2018, Defendant filed Defendant's Motion, seeking summary judgment in its favor on all claims asserted by Plaintiff and all remaining counterclaims. ECF No. 50. On October 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the statement of undisputed facts contained in Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 51, as well as its opposition to Defendant's Motion and Plaintiffs Cross-Motion. ECF Nos. 52, 53. On November 16, 2018, Defendant filed its opposition to Plaintiffs Cross-Motion and a reply. ECF No. 55. Finally, on December 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply. ECF No. 57.

         This matter is now fully briefed and the Court has reviewed both parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, as well as the responses thereto. For the foregoing reasons and pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), Defendant's Motion (ECF No. 50) is DENIED and Plaintiffs Cross-Motion (ECF No. 52) is DENIED.

         Discission

         A. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Rule 56, a movant is entitled to summary judgment where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Supreme Court has clarified that not every factual dispute will defeat a motion for summary judgment but rather, there must be a genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) ("[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." (emphases in original)). An issue of fact is material if. under the substantive law of the case, resolution of the factual dispute could affect the outcome. Id. at 248. There is a genuine issue as to material fact "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.; see also Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of Am.,673 F.3d 323, 330 (4th Cir. 2012). ...


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