308 F.Supp. 922 (D.S.C. 1970), Civ. A. 68-289, Grayson v. Aetna Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 68-289
Citation:308 F.Supp. 922
Party Name:Grayson v. Aetna Ins. Co.
Case Date:January 23, 1970
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, District of South Carolina
 
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Page 922

308 F.Supp. 922 (D.S.C. 1970)

Robert GRAYSON, Plaintiff,

v.

AETNA INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 68-289.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division.

Jan. 23, 1970

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 924

Sol Blatt, Jr., Blatt & Fales, Barnwell, S.C., for plaintiff.

Nelson, Mullins, Grier & Scarborough, Columbia, S.C., for defendant.

ORDER

SIMONS, District Judge.

This action, which is a suit seeking the interpretation of a farm owner's liability insurance policy issued by defendant to one Grover Hutson, a farm owner and plaintiff's employer, was first before the court upon motions for summary judgment on behalf of plaintiff and defendant on the ground that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact.

The sole question before the court was the proper legal interpretation to be given the following exclusionary clause contained in said policy which provided as follows:

"(d) under Coverage G, to bodily injury to any farm employee, arising out of and in the course of his employment by the Insured, and under Coverages G and H, to any person, including any residence employee or insured farm employee, (1) if the Insured has in effect on the date of the occurrence a policy providing workmen's compensation or occupational disease benefits therefor, or (2) if benefits therefor are in whole or in part either payable or required to be provided under any workmen's compensation or occupational disease law; but this subdivision (2) does not apply with respect to Coverage G unless such benefits are payable or required to be provided by the Insured * * *"

The admitted facts were that defendant's policy issued to one Grover Hutson was in full force and effect on the date when plaintiff, Robert Grayson, was injured while employed in the scope and course of his employment on Mr. Hutson's farm; that plaintiff brought suit in the state court against his employer resulting in a judgment in his favor in the amount of $25,000, which Defendant Aetna Insurance Company failed and refused to pay upon the ground that plaintiff's injury was excluded from the coverage of its policy issued to Mr. Hutson under the above exclusionary provision.

By its order dated November 1, 1968, this court denied both parties' motions for summary judgment upon the following basis:

'After having studied the contentions of the parties and having reviewed the authorities cited by them, the court concludes that the language and punctuation of the exclusionary clause gives rise to conflicting reasonable inferences that may be drawn as to the meaning thereof. Therefore, summary judgment is not the answer. The court will be in a much better position to determine the question at issue after a trial of the case on the merits rather than at this stage.

'Accordingly, both plaintiff's and defendant's motions for summary judgment are denied.' Grayson v. Aetna Insurance Company, D.C., 291 F.Supp. 720 (1968).

Subsequent to the foregoing order, the case was placed on the trial calendar in the Aiken Division, and was set down for trial at the next non-jury term. The matter was then scheduled for pretrial conference preliminary to a trial on the merits. At such conference counsel for both parties stated that in their judgment a full evidentiary hearing was not necessary; that the sole issue to be determined was the proper legal construction of the foregoing exclusionary clause; that there was no genuine issue of fact to be decided; and that both parties therefore should be permitted to renew their motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's counsel requested permission, which was granted, to submit affidavits in support of plaintiff's renewed motion for summary judgment. Defense counsel was also given the same permission but advised that, in view of defendant's position that such exclusionary clause was clear and unambiguous, he did not deem it proper for the court in determining the issue to consider any affidavits

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or other evidence outside of the policy provisions. Accordingly defendant rested its case on the premise that the only logical and reasonable interpretation of the exclusionary clause was that plaintiff's injury which admittedly occurred while engaged as a farm employee for defendant's insured, Mr. Hutson, in the course and scope of his employment was clearly excluded from coverage under the policy.

Thereafter, in due course plaintiff, through his counsel, renewed his motion for summary judgment by formal written motion which was supported by affidavits of Dr. John Guilds, Head of the English Department of the University of South Carolina in Columbia and of plaintiff's employer, Grover Hutson, together with a 'Stipulation of Facts' signed and consented to by counsel for plaintiff and defendant, copy of which is hereto appended and by reference made a part hereof.

Thus, the sole issue presently before the court is identical to that which the court dealt with in its former opinion in Grayson v. Aetna Insurance Company, supra, to wit: Whether plaintiff's personal injury which occurred while engaged as a farm employee of defendant's insured, Grover Hutson, in the course and scope of his employment was covered by defendant's policy; or whether such injury was excluded from coverage by virtue of the above quoted exclusionary clause.

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