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Allstate Insurance Co. v. Essiam

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 27, 2016

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DUKE ESSIAM, et al., Defendants.

          RULING RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 42); DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NOS. 45, 52); MOTION TO JOIN CO-DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 51)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”) filed suit against Duke Essiam (“Essiam”), Brigetanian O. Koranteng (“Koranteng”), Debra A. Evans, as administrator of the Estate of La’Andrew Evans-Swain (“Evans-Swain”), and Robert Swain, Jr., as administrator of the Estate of Robert Swain III (“Swain”). Allstate seeks a declaratory judgment stating that it has no duty to defend or indemnify Essiam and Koranteng in connection with lawsuits brought by Swain and Evans-Swain in state court.

         Allstate has moved for summary judgment. See Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 42). Evans-Swain has also moved for summary judgment. See Defendant, Debra A. Evans, Administrator of the Estate of La’Andrew Evans-Swain Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 45). Essiam and Koranteng have jointly moved for summary judgment. See Defendants Duke Essiam and Brigetanian O. Koranteng’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 52). Lastly, Essiam and Koranteng have jointly moved to join Evans-Swain’s Motion for Summary Judgment. See Defendants Duke Essiam and Brigetanian O. Koranteng’s Motion to Join Co-Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 51).

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         The underlying state court actions arose from an automobile crash in which Swain and Evans-Swain, who were passengers in a car driven by Eric Watson (“Watson”), were fatally injured in the early morning of July 14, 2013, after Watson lost control of the vehicle. See Allstate’s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶¶ 1-3, 18, 25-28. Swain and Evans-Swain allege that, earlier that morning and on the prior evening, Watson, who was a minor at the time, was a guest at a party given at the Essiam / Koranteng home, during which party Watson became legally intoxicated after consuming alcohol Essiam and Koranteng either provided or permitted to be provided to him. See id. ¶¶ 5-8, 12-13, 15-16, 20-22. They further allege that Watson drove both to and from the party at the Essiam / Koranteng residence, and he remained intoxicated at the time of the car crash. See id. ¶¶ 7, 9, 14, 16, 25. Based on the foregoing, Swain’s and Evans-Swain’s Complaints assert claims for negligence against Essiam and Koranteng, insofar as they, inter alia, provided or allowed alcohol to be provided to Watson, despite the fact that Watson was a minor and despite the fact that they knew he would be driving upon leaving the party. See id. ¶¶ 10, 15, 17, 28-29.

         Koranteng has a deluxe homeowner’s insurance policy issued by Allstate (“the Policy”). Id. ¶ 34. The Policy contains the following exclusion:

We do not cover bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, occupancy, renting, loaning, entrusting, loading or unloading of any motor vehicle or trailer.

Id. ¶ 36.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         On a motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving party to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); White v. ABCO Engineering Corp., 221 F.3d 293, 300 (2d Cir. 2000). Once the moving party has met its burden, in order to defeat the motion the nonmoving party must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256, and present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor, see Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000).

         In assessing the record to address questions of fact, the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Graham, 230 F.3d at 38. Summary judgment “is properly granted only when no rational finder of fact could find in favor of the non-moving party.” Carlton v. Mystic Transp., Inc., 202 F.3d 129, 134 (2d Cir. 2000). “When reasonable persons, applying the proper legal standards, could differ in their responses to the question” raised, on the basis of the evidence presented, the question must be left to the finder of fact. Sologub v. City of New York, 202 F.3d 175, 178 (2d Cir. 2000).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         “An insurer’s duty to defend is triggered if at least one allegation of the complaint falls even possibly within the coverage.” Travelers Cas. and Sur. Co. of America v. Netherlands Ins. Co., 312 Conn. 714, 739 (Conn. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, an insurer has no duty to defend if it can “establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact either that no allegation of the underlying complaint falls even possibly within the scope of the insuring agreement or, even if it might, that any claim based on such an allegation is excluded from coverage ...


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