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Auto Club Property-Casualty Ins. Co. v. B.T.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

January 29, 2014

AUTO CLUB PROPERTY-CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF
v.
B.T., by and through his parent and next friend SHELITA THOMAS; D.C., by and through his parents and next friends BRAD CAMBRON and MELISSA CAMBRON; BRAD CAMBRON and MELISSA CAMBRON, J.J., by and through his parent and next friend TINA JENKINS, DEFENDANTS

Decided: January 28, 2014

Page 703

For Auto Club Property-Casualty Insurance Company, Plaintiff: Christopher Lee Whitfield, Norman E. Harned, Harned, Bachert & McGehee, PSC, Bowling Green, KY.

For B.T., by and through his parent and next friend Shelita Thomas, Defendant: Jeffrey L. Freeman, LEAD ATTORNEY, O'Koon Hintermeister, PLLC, Louisville, KY.

For D.C., by and through his parents and next friends Brad Cambron and Melissa Cambron, Brad Cambron, Melissa Cambron, Defendants: Joshua Taylor Rose, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hummel Coan Miller Sage & Rose LLC, Louisville, KY.

For J.J., by and through his parent and next friend Tina Jenkins, Defendant: Curtis Lee Sitlinger, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sitlinger, McGlincy, Theiler & Karem, Louisville, KY.

OPINION

Charles R. Simpson III, Senior United States District Judge.

Page 704

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The court has been asked to resolve a coverage dispute between the Plaintiff, Auto Club Property-Casualty Insurance Company (" Auto Club" ), and the Defendants, Brad Cambron, Melissa Cambron, and D.C., an unmarried minor by and through his parents Brad and Melissa Cambron (collectively, " the Cambrons" ); B.T., an unmarried minor by and through his parent Shelita Thomas (" B.T" ); and J.J., an unmarried minor by and through his parent Tina Jenkins (" J.J." ). This matter is now before the court on the cross-motions of Auto Club (DN 33), the Cambrons (DN 47), and B.T. (DN 37) for summary judgment. Fully briefed, the matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant Auto Club's motion for summary judgment (DN 33), deny the Cambrons' motion for summary judgment (DN 47), and deny B.T.'s motion for summary judgment (DN 37).

I. BACKGROUND

This declaratory judgment action arises from an injury sustained by B.T., a minor, after being hit in the eye with a bottle rocket. The facts of this case are not substantially in dispute. In early July 2010, Brad Cambron (" Brad" ) purchased fireworks in Indiana. Several of the fireworks, including some sparklers and bottle rockets, remained in Brad's car on July 5, 2010. That evening D.C., Brad's 8-year-old son, was playing outside the Cambrons' home with several minor children, including B.T. and J.J. At some point that evening, D.C. came inside the home and asked Brad if he could retrieve the sparklers from Brad's car.[1] Brad assented and proceeded to use his keyless remote to unlock the car. Brad did not follow D.C. to the car, nor did he observe which fireworks D.C. removed from the car. In addition to taking the sparklers from the car, one of the children--either D.C. or J.J.--also removed the bottle rockets. Several minors, including J.J., proceeded to ignite the bottle rockets on the Cambrons' property over the next few hours. At no time did Brad go outside to check on the children.

The incident at issue in this action arose when J.J. lit the fuse of a bottle rocket [2] and aimed it toward the garage where B.T. happened to be standing. There is some confusion as to what transpired next, but the parties do not dispute that B.T. was

Page 705

struck in the eye by the bottle rocket that J.J. lit. As a result of this incident, B.T. has undergone several surgeries to his eye and claims to have continuing vision impairment which will require future corrective surgeries.

No criminal charges have ever been filed against the Cambrons or J.J. However, Shelita Thomas, as parent and next friend of B.T., filed a civil action against the Cambrons and J.J. in Jefferson Circuit Court in August 2011, seeking damages for B.T's injuries.[3] (DN 1-4). To defend against that suit, the Cambrons sought coverage under an insurance policy issued to them by Auto Club (hereinafter, the " Policy" ). The Policy provided for personal liability coverage and medical expense payments for the period between March 3, 2010 and March 3, 2011. Under its terms, the Policy provided coverage to " Insured Person(s)," which it defined as the person named on the Policy's Declaration Certificate, a resident relative of the person named on the Declaration Certificate, and a person under age 18 residing in the household of the person named on the Declaration Certificate. (DN 1-5, p. 5). Melissa Cambron is an " insured person" because she is listed on the Policy's Declaration Certificate (DN 33-2), and both Brad and D.C. are " insured persons" because they are resident relatives of Melissa Cambron.

Auto Club filed this action against the Cambrons, B.T., and J.J, seeking a declaration that it is under no duty to defend, pay, provide coverage to, or indemnify the Cambrons for any claim that has been or could be filed by or on behalf of B.T. relating to the incident on July 5, 2010. (DN 1). Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment.

II. STANDARD

A court may grant a motion for summary judgment if it finds that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the nonmoving party thereafter must produce specific ...


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