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Farm Family Casualty Ins. Co. v. Rivers Paving, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

October 26, 2015

FARM FAMILY CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff/Defendant in Counterclaim,
v.
RIVERS PAVING, INC, et al., Defendants/Plaintiff in Counterclaim
v.
MASSACHUSETTS HOMELAND INSURANCE COMPANY, Third Party Defendant

          For Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant, ThirdParty Plaintiff: Anthony J. Gianfrancesco, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gianfrancesco & Friedemann, LLP, Providence, RI.

         For Rivers Paving, Inc., Defendant, Counter Claimant: Mark D. Tourgee, Tara L. Fontaine, Inman, Tourgee & Williamson, Coventry, RI.

         For Norman Rivers, Jr., Defendant, Counter Claimant: Mark D. Tourgee, Tara L. Fontaine, Inman, Tourgee & Williamson, Coventry, RI.

         For Massachusetts Homeland Insurance Company, ThirdParty Defendant: Patricia A. Buckley, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bengtson & Jestings, LLP, Providence, RI.

Page 177

         MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         JOHN J. McCONNELL, JR., United States District Judge.

         Norman Rivers, Jr., president of Rivers Paving, Inc., (collectively " Rivers" ) was struck by a car on November 20, 2012 in Coventry, Rhode Island while directing his company's truck in traffic. He sustained personal injuries in that accident and filed a claim against a commercial general liability policy (the Policy) with Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company (Farm Family), which covered not only Rivers Paving but also covered him as president and employee of Rivers Paving. Farm Family denied his claim under the Policy's uninsured motorist benefits and brought a declaratory judgment action against Rivers, claiming that the policy does not cover Mr. Rivers' injuries because he was not inside the truck when he was hit. Rivers in turn filed a direct action counterclaim against Farm Family for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

         As this lawsuit progressed, Farm Family filed a Third Party Complaint, a direct action, against Mr. Rivers' personal automobile insurer, Massachusetts Homeland Insurance Company (Mass. Homeland)[1] for indemnification and/or contribution. That policy also contained an uninsured motorist (UM) provision, but Mr. Rivers did not make a claim under that policy. Before the Court is Mass. Homeland's motion to dismiss Farm Family's Third-Party Complaint. In that motion, Mass. Homeland argues that 1) Farm Family lacks standing to request essentially a determination of rights and obligations under Mr. Rivers' personal Mass. Homeland automobile policy and 2) the Farm Family Third-Party Complaint does not state a viable cause of action for indemnification.

         Finding these arguments unpersuasive, the Court DENIES Mass. Homeland's motion to dismiss.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court accepts as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Cook v. Gates, 528 F.3d 42, 48 (1st Cir. 2008); McCloskey v. Mueller, 446 F.3d 262, 266 (1st Cir. 2006). To withstand " a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege 'a plausible entitlement to relief.'" ACA Fin. Guar. Coil. v. Advest, Inc., 512 F.3d 46, 58 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1967-69, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-87, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). In Iqbal, the Supreme Court further explained, " [a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 664. " [A] plaintiff . . . is . . . required to set forth factual allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some actionable legal theory." Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 515 (1st Cir. 1988).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Mass. Homeland's argument that Farm Family does not have standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against it under R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-30-1 et seq. because Farm Family is neither a party to the Mass. Homeland policy nor an intended third party beneficiary of that policy is based on an incorrect premise. The Court sees no standing issue here ...


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