United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter comes before the Court upon motion by Plaintiff Danny
Reddick (“Plaintiff”) for summary judgment
against Defendant ACE American Insurance Company
(“Defendant”).[DN 8.] Defendant has responded. [DN
12.] This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the following
reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED
and his Complaint is DISMISSED.
case arises out of a boating accident that took place on Lake
Barkley in Trigg County, Kentucky on July 26, 2016. [DN 8, at
2.] Plaintiff was participating in a local fishing
competition and utilizing his personal boat. Plaintiff
allowed Joe Noel, who was accompanying Plaintiff that day, to
operate the boat. [Id.] Noel allegedly
“operated the aforementioned boat [negligently, and] at
a high right of speed which resulted in a collision with
another vessel.” [Id.] As a result of the
crash, Plaintiff suffered numerous injuries, “including
fractured vertebra.” [Id.] Plaintiff has an
ongoing lawsuit against Noel in state court, which is being
held in abeyance. [Id.]
subject of the dispute currently before the Court is the
insurance policy which covered Plaintiff's boat.
Specifically, Plaintiff's Boatsman Policy, purchased from
Defendant, provides for “bodily injury liability
coverage in the amount of $300, 000.00.” [Id.]
However, Plaintiff's policy also contains a liability
exclusion for precisely the type of incident that occurred on
Lake Barkley on July 26, 2016. [Id.] The exclusion
at issue provides as follows:
PART B: LIABILITY COVERAGE…EXCLUSIONS: We do not
provide coverage under PART B: LIABILITY COVERAGE for:
(a) Liability of other Covered Persons to you or any Resident
(b) your liability to any Resident Relative;
(c) liability assumed by a Covered Person under any contract
[DN 12-2, at 13.] In the above-quoted language,
“you” is defined as the named insured, Plaintiff.
[Id. at 16.] A “covered person” is the
named insured, “or any person or legal entity operating
the Insured Vessel as shown on the Declarations Page with
your direct and prior permission.” [Id.] As
Defendant explains in its Factual Background section,
“[b]ecause Mr. Noel was operating the boat with Mr.
Reddick's permission, Mr. Noel is a Covered Person under
the Policy, and, therefore, the Policy excludes coverage for
damages arising from the liability of Mr. Noel to Mr.
Reddick…. [DN 12-1, at 3.] Plaintiff does not dispute
the exclusion's language, nor does he argue that it
should not apply to his situation. Rather, Plaintiff argues
that the “Boatsman Policy goes against public policy
and is therefore non-enforceable.” [DN 8, at 2.]
judgment is proper where “the pleadings, the discovery
and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When examining whether a
motion for summary judgment should be granted, the court is
required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable
inferences against the movant. See Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986). However, “not every issue of fact or
conflicting inference presents a genuine issue of material
fact.” Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886
F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989). Rather, the question is
whether the party who bears the burden of proof in the case
has presented a jury question as to each element in the case.
Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996).
This means that the plaintiff must present to the court more
than a mere scintilla of evidence supporting her position.
Id. Indeed, the plaintiff must present evidence on
which the trier of fact could reasonably find for the
plaintiff. Id. It is not enough for a plaintiff to
present speculation as to elements of the case, because
“the mere existence of a colorable factual dispute will
not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.
A genuine dispute between the parties on an issue of material
fact must exist to render summary judgment
inappropriate.” Monette v. Elec. Data Sys.
Corp., 90 F.3d 1173, 1177 (6th Cir. 1996).
Kentucky law, “if a contract, howsoever innocently
entered into, has a direct tendency to, and would if upheld
and enforced, injuriously affect a material and substantial
part of the public, it will be declared to be one against
public policy and most generally nonenforceable.”
Forbes v. Ashland, 55 S.W.2d 917, 919 (Ky. 1932).
Notably though, “contracts voluntarily made between
competent persons are not to be set aside lightly.”
Zeitz v. Foley, 264 S.W.2d 267, 268 (Ky. 1954).
Indeed, “a contract term is unenforceable on public
policy grounds only if the policy asserted against it is
clearly manifested by legislation or judicial
decisions and is sufficiently strong to
override the very substantial policies in favor of the
freedom to contract and the enforcement of private
agreements.” State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v.
Hodgkiss-Warrick, 413 S.W.3d 875, 880 (Ky. 2013)
(emphasis added). This stems from individuals'