839 F.Supp. 579 (S.D.Ind. 1993), IP 92 1673, American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Williams

Docket Nº:IP 92 1673 C.
Citation:839 F.Supp. 579
Party Name:AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. Dorothy M. WILLIAMS and Antonya M. Williams, Defendants.
Case Date:October 19, 1993
Court:United States District Courts, 7th Circuit, Southern District of Indiana

Page 579

839 F.Supp. 579 (S.D.Ind. 1993)



Dorothy M. WILLIAMS and Antonya M. Williams, Defendants.

No. IP 92 1673 C.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

Oct. 19, 1993

Page 580

John W. Hammel, Yarling Robinson Hammel & Lamb, Indianapolis, IN, for plaintiff.

Gerald J. Sufleta, Indianapolis, IN, for defendants.


McKINNEY, District Judge.

The plaintiff, American Family Mutual Insurance Company ("American"), has moved for summary judgment. The parties have filed their briefs and the issues are ready to be resolved. For the reasons discussed below, this Court GRANTS American's motion for summary judgment.


The parties do not dispute the facts. In December 1991, the defendants, Antonya M. Williams ("Antonya") and Dorothy M. Williams ("Dorothy") were married and residing in the same household in Indianapolis. On December 19, 1991, Antonya was driving a 1990 Chevrolet van on Interstate Highway 70, in Kansas. Dorothy and others were riding in the van as passengers. Near Goodland, Kansas, Antonya lost control of the van on a bridge and struck a guard rail, causing the van to roll two or three times. Dorothy was injured in the accident and has suffered medical expenses, pain, and suffering.

American is a Wisconsin corporation with its principal place of business in Madison, Wisconsin. American issued an automobile insurance policy for the van to Dorothy for the period October 21, 1991 to April 21, 1992 (the "Policy"). Dorothy claims that the Policy covers her injuries arising from the accident. On December 2, 1992, American formally denied Dorothy's claim under the Policy. According to American, Dorothy's claim was excluded by a provision in the Policy which provides that bodily injury to any person related to and residing in the same household with the operator of the van is not covered.

On December 3, 1993, American filed a complaint for declaratory relief with this Court. American seeks a declaration that: (1) the Policy provides no coverage for Dorothy for her claims against Antonya arising

Page 581

out of the accident on December 19, 1991; (2) American has no obligation to defend or assist in defending Antonya against Dorothy's claims arising out of the accident of December 19, 1991; and (3) that American has no obligation to pay or satisfy any part of any judgment that may be rendered in favor of Dorothy and against Antonya for Dorothy's injuries arising out of the accident on December 19, 1991.

On June 1, 1993, American filed its motion for summary judgment. According to American, pursuant to the provisions of the Policy and Indiana law, American is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. On August 2, 1993, Dorothy filed her response to American's motion. Dorothy argues that summary judgment is improper because Kansas law applies to the parties' dispute. American filed its reply on August 17, 1993.


Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Although a party bringing a motion for summary judgment must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of fact for trial, if that burden is met, the party opposing the motion must come forward with evidence of a genuine factual dispute. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Mere conclusory assertions, whether made in pleadings or affidavits, are not sufficient to defeat a proper motion for summary judgment. First Commodity Traders, Inc. v. Heinold Commodities, Inc., 766 F.2d 1007, 1011 (7th Cir. 1985).

An issue is genuine only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In other words, the disputed fact must be outcome determinative. See Hossman v. Spradlin, 812 F.2d 1019, 1020-21 (7th Cir. 1987). The Court's inquiry asks whether a reasonable fact finder could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment. Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 925 F.2d 1007, 1008 (7th Cir. 1991).

The substantive law identifies which facts are considered material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. Only factual disputes that might affect the outcome of the suit in light of the substantive law will preclude summary judgment; irrelevant or unnecessary disputes will not. Id.

If a motion for summary judgment is made and properly supported, an adverse party may not rest on the mere allegations or denials in its pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. An adverse party must set forth specific facts, supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material allowed under Rule 56, showing that a genuine issue exists. Id. If the adverse party fails to make such a response, summary judgment, if proper, shall be entered. Id.; Tobey v. Extel/JWP, Inc., 985 F.2d 330, 332 (7th Cir. 1993).

Since the Supreme Court's trilogy of decisions on summary judgment, see Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265; Anderson, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202; and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986), it is clear that entry of summary judgment is mandatory where the requirements of Rule 56 are met. See Herman v. City of...

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