United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Athens Division
D. LAND, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF
Travelers Indemnity Company of America seeks a declaration
that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify Defendants
Monaneka Jones and Kawanis Sutton for liability claims
brought against them by Defendants Felicia and Terry
Blackwell. Travelers moved for summary judgment on this
issue, and none of the Defendants responded. For the reasons
set forth below, Travelers' summary judgment motion (ECF
No. 22) is granted. Travelers' motion for default
judgment as to Jones and Sutton (ECF No. 21) is also
judgment may be granted only “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). In determining whether a genuine
dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion
for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment,
drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing
party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it
is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if
the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
the Court's local rules, a party moving for summary
judgment must attach to its motion “a separate and
concise statement of the material facts to which the movant
contends there is no genuine dispute to be tried.” M.D.
Ga. R. 56. Those facts must be supported by the record. The
respondent to a summary judgment motion must respond
“to each of the movant's numbered material
facts.” Id. “All material facts
contained in the movant's statement which are not
specifically controverted by specific citation to particular
parts of materials in the record shall be deemed to have been
admitted, unless otherwise inappropriate.” Id.
submitted a statement of undisputed material facts.
Defendants did not respond to it. Therefore, Travelers'
statement of material facts is deemed admitted pursuant to
Local Rule 56. The Court must still review Travelers'
citations to the record to determine whether a genuine fact
dispute exists. Mann v. Taser Int'l, Inc., 588
F.3d 1291, 1303 (11th Cir. 2009).
on the Court's review of Travelers' citations to the
record, the record reveals the following facts.
November 28, 2015, Breanna Blackwell, the daughter of
Defendants Felicia and Terry Blackwell, drove her car to a
party at the home of Defendant Monaneka Jones in Athens,
Georgia. The party was hosted by Jones's son, Defendant
Kawanis Sutton, who lived with his grandparents and not at
Jones's house. While Breana was still in her car, a gun
fight broke out at the party, and Breana was struck and
killed by a stray bullet. Jones was not home at the time of
the party, but she learned about the shooting incident from
Sutton within forty-eight hours.
had issued a homeowners insurance policy to Jones that
included liability coverage. The policy defines
“insured” as the named insured and relatives who
are residents of her household. Compl. Ex. F, Policy §
Definitions ¶ 4, ECF No. 1-6 at 22. In the event of a
loss, the Travelers policy requires the insured to give
written notice of the accident or occurrence to Travelers
“as soon as is practical.” Id. § II
- Conditions ¶ 3(a), ECF No. 1-6 at 39. The policy also
requires the insured to forward promptly to Travelers
“every notice, demand, summons, or other process
relating to the accident or
§ II - Conditions ¶ 3(b), ECF No. 1-6 at 39. These
notice provisions are expressly made a condition precedent to
coverage because the policy provides that no action shall be
brought against Travelers “unless there has been
compliance with the policy provisions.” Id.
§ II - Conditions ¶ 6, ECF No. 1-6 at 40. See,
e.g., Lankford v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 703
S.E.2d 436, 438-39 (Ga.Ct.App. 2010) (finding that a similar
provision made notice provisions a condition precedent to
Jones nor Sutton notified Travelers about the shooting
incident or requested coverage under the policy-not after
Jones received a letter from the Blackwells' lawyer in
April 2016 stating that litigation was contemplated, not
after the Blackwells filed the underlying lawsuit and served
Jones in August 2016, and not after Sutton was added as a
defendant to the underlying lawsuit in March 2017. Jones did
tell the Blackwells' lawyer about the Travelers policy
during her November 2016 deposition in the underlying
lawsuit, and the Blackwells' lawyer immediately contacted
Travelers to provide notice of the shooting incident and the
underlying lawsuit. Neither Jones nor Sutton has responded to
Travelers' several requests for information about the
shooting incident. Travelers is providing a defense to Jones
and Sutton in the underlying lawsuit subject to a reservation
argues that Sutton is not entitled to coverage because he was
not an insured under the policy. The Court agrees. The policy
only covered Jones and her relatives who were residents of
her household. Based on the record, Sutton lived with his
grandparents and was not a resident of Jones's household,
and Defendants did not offer any evidence to create a genuine
fact dispute on this issue. And, Sutton never requested
coverage under the policy or responded to Travelers'
requests for information about the shooting incident. For
these reasons, Sutton is not entitled to coverage under the
argues that Jones is not entitled to coverage because she did
not comply with the policy's conditions precedent. The
Court agrees. Under Georgia law, an insured must comply with
her insurance policy's conditions precedent to coverage.
As discussed above, the notice provisions in Jones's
insurance policy are conditions precedent to coverage. A
notice provision that is “expressly made a condition
precedent to coverage is valid and must be complied with,
absent a showing of justification.” Barclay v.
Stephenson, 787 S.E.2d 322, 329 (Ga.Ct.App. 2016)
(quoting Lankford, 703 S.E.2d at 438-39). “An
unjustified failure to give such notice ends the
insurer's coverage obligations.” Id.
“The insured has the burden of showing justification
for a delay in providing notice.” OneBeacon Am.
Ins. Co. v. Catholic Diocese of Savannah, 477 F.
App'x 665, 670 (11th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (applying
Georgia law). If an insured is contractually required ...