United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
EVERETT CASH MUTUAL INSURANCE CO. PETITIONER
JACKIE MANN, et al. RESPONDENTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, United States District Court Chief Judge
matter is before the Court on Respondent's Motion to
Dismiss (DN 15) and Respondent's Motion for Leave to
Supplement (DN 21). The motions are ripe for adjudication.
For the reasons outlined below, the motions are GRANTED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CLAIMS
13, 2017, Respondent Mark Adam Bennett
(“Bennett”), an employee of Mann Construction,
LLC (“Mann Construction”), was injured when a
lift operated by Respondent Jackie Mann (“Mann”)
fell over and knocked Bennett off the roof of a structure
where trusses were being set. (Pet. ¶ 9, DN 1). Bennett
was hospitalized for more than three weeks following his
fall, and the medical expenses from his hospitalization
exceed $382, 000.
day of the accident, Mann provided notice to Petitioner
Everett Cash Mutual Insurance Co. (“Everett
Cash”), which had issued a small contractor policy to
“Jackie Mann d/b/a Mann Construction.” (Pet.
¶¶ 7, 9). The coverage limits on the policy for
bodily injury and property damage are $1 million for each
occurrence. On November 6, 2017, Mann submitted a notice of a
property damage claim relating to the accident. (Pet. ¶
December 15, 2017, Everett Cash petitioned this Court for a
declaratory judgment to determine whether there was coverage
under the policy for these losses and whether Mann made false
statements in his application for insurance coverage. (Pet.
¶¶ 40-96). Subsequently, on February 14, 2018,
Bennett and his wife (“the Bennetts”) filed a
lawsuit against Mann, Mann Construction, and Everett Cash in
Russell Circuit Court. (Resp't's Mot. Dismiss. Ex. A,
DN 15-1). In that lawsuit, the Bennetts asserted personal
injury claims and seek a declaration of insurance coverage
relating to their tort claims. (Resp't's Mot. Dismiss
Ex. A, ¶¶ 23-35).
Respondent's Motion to Supplement (DN 21)
moves to supplement his dispositive motion with a copy of the
answer and cross-claim filed by Mann in the Russell Circuit
Court Action. (Resp't's Mot. Suppl. Mot. Dismiss, DN
21). Everett Cash objects to the motion as immaterial and
irrelevant. (Pet'r's Resp. Mot. Leave 1, DN 23). It
also contends that “[t]his belated attempt to engage in
procedural fencing by filing the same claim in multiple
forums, only strengthens the basis for the denial of the
Respondent, Mark Adam Bennett, [sic] motion to
dismiss.” (Pet'r's Resp. Mot. Leave 1-2).
Because it is necessary to consider all claims asserted in
the Russell Circuit Court action in determining whether to
hear this declaratory judgment action, this Court will grant
Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (DN 15)
moves to dismiss this declaratory judgment action.
(Resp't's Mot. Dismiss 2-6, DN 15). He contends that
the Court should decline to exercise jurisdiction over this
litigation in light of the related case pending in Russell
Circuit Court. (Resp't's Mot. Dismiss 2-6).
the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a),
“any court of the United States, upon the filing of an
appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal
relations of any interested party seeking such declaration,
whether or not further relief is or could be sought.” A
court's exercise of jurisdiction under the Declaratory
Judgment Act, however, is discretionary- not mandatory. See
Bituminous Cas. Corp. v. J & L Lumber Co., 373
F.3d 807, 812 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Brillhart v. Excess
Ins. Co. of Am., 316 U.S. 491, 494 (1942)). When
deciding if a declaratory ruling is appropriate, a court
should consider whether the judgment will serve a useful
purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in
issue, and whether it will terminate and afford relief from
the uncertainty, insecurity, and controversy giving rise to
the proceeding. See Grand Trunk W. R. Co. v. Consol. R.
Corp., 746 F.2d 323, 326 (6th Cir. 1984). In addition,
the Sixth Circuit has outlined the following factors to
determine whether a district court should exercise
jurisdiction over a request for a declaratory judgment:
(1) whether the declaratory action would settle the
controversy; (2) whether the declaratory action would serve a
useful purpose in clarifying the legal relations in issue;
(3) whether the declaratory remedy is being used merely for
the purpose of “procedural fencing” or “to
provide an arena for a race for res judicata;” (4)
whether the use of a declaratory action would increase
friction between our federal and state courts and improperly
encroach upon state jurisdiction; and (5) whether there is an
alternative remedy which is better or more effective.
Id.; see also Scottsdale Ins. Co., 513 F.3d 546, 564
(6th Cir. 2008). The Grand Trunk factors embody three main
principles: efficiency, fairness, and federalism. See W.
World Ins. Co. v. Hoey,773 F.3d 755, ...