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Dominion Resources, Inc. v. Alstom Power, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 31, 2018

DOMINION RESOURCES, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALSTOM POWER, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER CERTIFYING QUESTION RE: ALSTOM'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 131) TO THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case involves a breach of contract dispute between the plaintiffs, Dominion Resources Services, Inc., Dominion Resources, Inc., Dominion Energy, Inc., Dominion Generation Corp., and Dominion Technical Solutions, Inc. (collectively “Dominion Resources”), and the defendant, Alstom Power, Inc. (“Alstom”). On December 1, 2016, Dominion Resources filed the Amended Complaint, alleging two counts of breach of contract against Alstom. See Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) (Doc. No. 45). On December 15, 2016, Alstom filed its Answer, Defenses, and Counterclaims. See Answer, Defenses, and Counterclaims (“Answer”) (Doc. No. 48). Alstom asserted, inter alia, the defense that “Plaintiffs have already recovered from their insurers the amounts claimed in this lawsuit; and Plaintiffs may not recover from Defendant amounts already paid to Plaintiffs by their insurers.” Id. at ¶ 67. Alstom also advanced three counterclaims for contractual indemnity, indemnity at law, and breach of contract. See id. at ¶¶ 100-09.

         On October 27, 2017, the parties cross-moved for summary judgment. See Motion for Summary Judgment by Dominion Resources (“Dominion Resources' MFSJ”) (Doc. No. 129); Motion for Summary Judgment Dismissing Plaintiffs' Breach of Contract Claims (“Alstom's MFSJ”) (Doc. No. 131); Motion for Summary Judgment Dismissing Plaintiffs' Claims as Barred by Statute of Limitations (Doc. No. 132); Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 134). The parties both seek summary judgment on a number of grounds. Among them, Alstom seeks summary judgment on both of Dominion Resources' breach of contract claims on the ground that Dominion Resources has not suffered any recoverable damages because they have been paid by their insurer, Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services, Ltd. (“AEGIS”), for the full amount sought in this action. See Alstom's MFSJ at 20-28. Alstom argues that Dominion Resources should be barred from obtaining double recovery and that the collateral source rule does not apply to breach of contract actions. See id. Dominion Resources does not dispute that it was reimbursed by AEGIS, but argues that the collateral source rule should apply to prevent the court from considering AEGIS's reimbursement. See Memorandum in Opposition to Alstom's Motions for Summary Judgment (“Dominion Resources' Mem. in Opp.”) (Doc. No. 137) at 33-36.

         The parties agree that Virginia law governs the contract between them. See Alstom's Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of Facts (“Alstom's L.R.56(a)(1)”) (Doc. No. 135) at ¶ 3; Dominion Resources' Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement of Facts (“Dominion Resources' L.R.56(a)(2)”) (Doc. No. 138) at ¶ 3. No controlling precedent from the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals of Virginia has addressed whether the collateral source rule applies to breach of contract actions. See, e.g., Acuar v. Letourneau, 260 Va. 180, 188 n.7 (2000); see also supra at 11-13 (citing other cases). Absent objection from the parties, the court certifies the following question to the Supreme Court of Virginia and stays resolution of this case in the interim:

Does Virginia law apply the collateral source rule to a breach of contract action where the plaintiff has been reimbursed by an insurer for the full amount it seeks in damages from the defendant?

         In order to facilitate the work of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and in compliance with Rule 5:40, see Va. Sup. Ct. R. 5:40(c), the court explains below the relevant facts and the contested issue of law.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia permit “a United States district court” to certify a question to the Supreme Court of Virginia “if a question of Virginia law is determinative in any proceeding pending before the certifying court and it appears there is no controlling precedent on point in the decisions of [the Supreme Court] or the Court of Appeals of Virginia.” Va. Sup. Ct. R. 5:40(a). The Second Circuit has held that courts should “not certify every case that meets this criteria, but instead evaluate at least three factors in determining whether certification is appropriate: (1) the absence of authoritative state court decisions; (2) the importance of the issue to the state; and (3) the capacity of certification to resolve the litigation.” Casey v. Merck & Co., Inc., 653 F.3d 95, 101 (2011) (certifying a question to the Virginia Supreme Court under Rule 5:40(a)) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Under Rule 5:40, a certification order should contain:

(1) the nature of the controversy in which the question arises;
(2) the question of law to be answered;
(3) a statement of all facts relevant to the question certified;
(4) the names of each of the parties involved;
(5) the name, Virginia State Bar number, mailing address, telephone number (including any applicable extension), facsimile number (if any), and e-mail address (if any) of counsel for each of the parties involved;
(6) a brief statement explaining how the certified question of law is determinative of the proceeding in the certifying court; and (7) a brief statement setting forth relevant decisions, if any, of [the Supreme Court] and the Court of Appeals of ...

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