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Progressive Mountain Insurance Co. v. Anderson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

January 6, 2015

PROGRESSIVE MOUNTAIN INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
COREY DRU ANDERSON, SOUTHERN TRUST INSURANCE COMPANY and ADAM DUANE CASON, Defendants

Page 1291

For Progressive Mountain Insurance Company, Plaintiff: Erica L. Parsons, LEAD ATTORNEY, Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP, Atlanta, GA.

For Adam Duane Cason, Defendant: John C. Bell, Jr., Bell & Brigham, Augusta, GA.

For Southern Trust Insurance Company, Defendant: George R. Hall, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hull Barrett, PC, Augusta, GA; N. Shannon Gentry Lanier, Hull Barrett, PC, Augusta, GA.

Page 1292

ORDER

J. RANDAL HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Progressive Mountain Insurance Company (" Progressive" ) filed the instant lawsuit seeking a declaration from this Court regarding coverage owed to Defendant Corey Dru Anderson (" Anderson" ). Now before the Court is Progressive's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 31). For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Underlying Accident and Relevant Insurance Policies

This declaratory judgment action arises from a dispute over insurance coverage following a motor vehicle accident, the facts of which are largely undisputed. On June 29, 2011, Anderson was driving a 1996 Dodge Ram truck owned by his future father-in-law, Paul Hunley (" Mr. Hunley" ). (Compl. ¶ 10; Anderson Dep. Doc. 31, Ex. G at 17-19.) On the day of the accident, Anderson was driving Mr. Hunley's wife -- at Mr. Hunley' s request -- to a doctor's appointment. (Anderson Dep. at 29.) Following the appointment, with Anderson's fiancé e and future mother-in-law in tow, Anderson rear-ended Adam Duane Cason (" Cason" ), who was driving a 2002 Freightliner on Georgia Highway 232. (Id. at 23-24; Compl. ¶ ¶ 11-12.) Cason alleges that he sustained a severe concussion and head injuries and was unable to return to work for several months. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

At all times relevant to the accident, Anderson did not own a vehicle. (Anderson Dep. at 18.) Mr. Hunley, however, owned four vehicles: two Dodge Ram trucks, one Chevrolet truck, and a motorcycle. (Id. at 15-18.) Mr. Hunley paid for the insurance covering the two Dodge trucks, including the 1996 Dodge Ram involved in the accident, under policies issued by Everest Security Insurance Company (" Everest" ). (Id. at 30; Doc. 38 Ex. B.) A Progressive policy was issued for the Chevrolet truck. (Anderson Dep. at 30.) And although he was the named driver on the policy, Anderson would make his insurance payments to Mr. Hunley.[1] (Doc. 38, Ex. B; Anderson Dep. at 30-31.) Mr. Hunley purchased all insurance policies through the Nelson Insurance Agency (" Nelson" ) in Thomson, Georgia. (Anderson Dep. at 30, 33.)

Because he did not own a car, when Anderson needed to use a vehicle either Mr. Hunley would drive him or Anderson would use one of Mr. Hunley's vehicles.[2] (Id. at 18.) Which vehicle Anderson would

Page 1293

use depended on whether Anderson was driving the vehicle for business[3] or personal matters. According to Anderson, when he needed to use a truck for work he would ordinarily drive a small, utility-bed truck and not the 1996 Dodge Ram. (Id. at 14-15.) For personal matters, however, Anderson stated that he " usually" drove the newer truck -- the 1996 Dodge Ram. (Id. at 18.) Even so, Anderson testified that he did not use the 1996 Dodge Ram " on a regular basis" and " [t]ypically [Mr. Hunley] would be the one driving." (Id. at 29.)

B. Procedural Background

Cason filed suit against Anderson in the Superior Court of McDuffie County on April 12, 2012 but dismissed that action just days before trial and re-filed in this Court on September 26, 2014.[4] Cason, et al. v. Anderson, l:14-cv-186/ Doc. 1 (S.D. Ga.). With his lawsuit, Cason alleges that Anderson (1) negligently rear-ended his vehicle; (2) drove too fast for conditions; (3) failed to look where he was going; and (4) followed too closely. Id. Cason and his wife seek past and future general damages and loss of consortium, as well as exemplary damages. Id.

Southern Trust, Cason's uninsured motorist carrier, hired attorney George R. Hall to represent Anderson in the McDuffie County case. (See Doc. 38, Ex. E; Doc. 38, Ex. F.) Throughout the underlying litigation, Mr. Hall engaged in discovery, obtained records, and represented Anderson in his deposition. (Doc. 38, Ex. E; Anderson Dep. at 2.) On July 20, 2 012, Mr. Hall notified Nelson, the insurance agency, that Progressive might owe coverage for the accident, and Nelson forwarded this information to Progressive. (Doc. 38, Ex. F.) Following Mr. Hall's message, Progressive attempted to notify Anderson that it would provide him a defense pursuant to a reservation of rights agreement, though the notices were sent to the wrong addresses.[5] (Doc. 38, Ex. G.)

Thereafter, Progressive hired Percy J. Blount, Esq., to represent Anderson. (Doc. 38, Ex. I (Mr. Blount's entry of appearance).) Mr. Blount, along with Mr. Hall, continued to defend Anderson through discovery. (See Doc. 38, Exs. L-M.) On December 4, 2013, Mr. Blount supplemented Anderson's interrogatory responses in the McDuffie County case, adding that the case was being defended under a reservation of rights. (Doc. 38, Ex. N.) That response, however, did not include a copy of the reservation of rights letter, but rather stated that the letter would be produced at a later date. (Id.)

On November 26, 2013, Progressive filed a complaint in this Court seeking declaration that it ...


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