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GEICO Indem. Co. v. Crawford

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

July 30, 2014

GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ZACHARY I. CRAWFORD, et al., Defendants

Page 736

For GEICO Indemnity Company, Plaintiff: Carl Norman Frazier, Perry M. Bentley, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Stoll Keenon Ogden, PLLC - Lexington, Lexington, KY.

For Zachary I. Crawford, Hamilton Mutual Insurance Company, Defendants: Peter A. Schmid, LEAD ATTORNEY, Patricia J. Trombetta, Smith, Rolfes & Skavdahl Co., LPA - Ft Mitchell, Ft. Mitchell, KY.

For Devan A. Wiedeman, Defendant: Jason S. Morgan, LEAD ATTORNEY, David J. Guarnieri, McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC - Lexington, Lexington, KY.

For Gregory M. Collins, Defendant: Christopher W. Goode, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bubalo Goode Sales & Bliss PLC - Lexington, Lexington, KY.

Page 737

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Danny C. Reeves, United States District Judge.

This matter is pending for consideration of Defendants Hamilton Mutual Insurance Company (" Hamilton" ) and Zachary Crawford's motion to alter or amend the summary judgment entered in favor of Plaintiff GEICO Indemnity Company. [Record No. 39] For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I.

This action arises out of an automobile accident in Madison County, Kentucky. [Record No. 1, p. 5] At the time of the accident, Defendant Crawford was driving a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (" Jeep" ) owned by Defendant Linda Bellaw. Defendant Devan Wiedeman was a passenger in the Jeep. Defendant Gregory Collins was driving another automobile involved in the accident. [Record No. 16, pp. 3-4; Record No. 20-1]

Wiedeman and Collins sued Crawford in state court, alleging that Crawford caused the accident and their resulting injuries. [Record Nos. 15-3, 19-2] At the time of the accident, Crawford was insured by Hamilton. [Record No 1, p. 7] Bellaw, an Ohio resident, was the named insured on a policy issued by GEICO. [Record No. 1-1, pp. 3, 5] The policy contains an escape clause allowing coverage for permissive users. The clause states:

[A]ny other person who is using the auto with your permission [will be covered] but only if such a person is not insured by any other vehicle liability insurance policy, a self-insurance liability program, or a liability bond while using the auto.

[ Id., p. 4] The policy also contains a choice-of-law provision stating that " [t]he policy and any amendment(s) and endorsement(s) are to be interpreted pursuant to the laws of the state of Ohio." [Record No. 1-1, p. 16]

GEICO filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 2201. [Record No. 1] It then moved for a judgment on the pleadings or alternatively for summary judgment which the Court granted. [Record Nos. 14, 38] In the Memorandum Opinion and Order granting GEICO's motion, the Court held that the clause was an unenforceable standard escape clause [ See Record No. 37.] However, the Court further determined that Kentucky's public policy on the issue was not sufficiently clear and strongly stated to require the application of Kentucky law. [ Id. ] The Court also concluded that Ohio law controlled the interpretation and application of the policy under a traditional choice-of-law analysis, rendering the escape clause ...


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