971 F.Supp. 1066 (N.D.Miss. 1997), 296CV124, Centennial Ins. Co. v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc.

Docket Nº:296CV124
Citation:971 F.Supp. 1066
Party Name:Centennial Ins. Co. v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc.
Case Date:June 25, 1997
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Northern District of Mississippi

Page 1066

971 F.Supp. 1066 (N.D.Miss. 1997)




No. 2:96CV124-EMB.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Delta Division.

June 25, 1997

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Walker W. Jones, III, Sheryl Bey, Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, Jackson, MS, for Centennial Ins. Co.

W. Scott Welch, III, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada, Jackson, MS, for Ryder Truck Rental.


BOGEN, United States Magistrate Judge.

In this declaratory judgment action, plaintiff Centennial Insurance Company seeks a declaration that it is not obligated to defend and indemnify Ryder in a separate lawsuit, Williams v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., et al., Cause No. 2:95CV62-D-B, now pending in this court, and for attorney's fees and costs in bringing this action. Ryder has counter-claimed for damages, i.e. attorney fees and expenses incurred in defending the Williams suit. 1

Both parties have moved for summary judgment, and concede that the matter can be resolved by motion as there are no material factual disputes. The parties have consented to trial and entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


The facts as stipulated are these: Guy Williams, an employee of Scholastic Book Fairs, Inc., alleges in 2:95CV62 that in April 1994, he was injured while unloading materials when he fell down the metal ramp of a truck leased by Ryder to Scholastic, and has sued Ryder alleging that the loading ramp was defective. Williams has also made a claim for workers compensation benefits and has received to date over $84,921.49.

Scholastic was obligated by the Truck Lease and Service Agreement with Ryder [Exhibit B to Stipulation of Facts submitted with plaintiff's motion] to procure liability insurance and to hold Ryder harmless for injuries occurring to Scholastic, its employees, drivers or agents. Scholastic purchased two policies from Centennial--Policy No. 299 00 08 86 (Commercial Package Policy-Business Auto Coverage) [Exhibit D]; and No. 299 00 08 88 (Commercial Package Policy-General Liability Coverage Form) [Exhibit C]. By virtue of a Certificate of Insurance, Ryder is an additional insured under the policies issued to Scholastic [Exhibit E].


The obligations of Centennial under the policies at issue in this case hinge largely on the effect to be given the exclusionary provisions of the policies.

The operative exclusions in the Business Auto Policy (299 00 08 86) provide as follows:


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Any obligation for which the "insured" or the "insured's" insurer may be held liable under any workers compensation disability benefits or unemployment compensation law or any similar law.


"Bodily Injury" to:

a. An employee of the "insured" arising out of and in the course of employment by the "insured;" or

b. The spouse, child, parent, brother or sister of that employee as a consequence of paragraph a. above.

This exclusion applies:

(1) Whether the "insured" may be liable as an employer or in any other capacity; and

(2) To any obligation to share damages with or repay someone else who must pay damages because of the injury.

But this exclusion does not apply to "bodily injury" to domestic employees not entitled to workers compensation benefits or to liability assumed by the "insured" under an "insured contract."

The pertinent exclusions contained in the Commercial General Liability Policy are as follows:


a. "Bodily injury" or "property damage" expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured. This exclusion does not apply to "bodily injury" resulting from the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property.

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d. Any obligation of the insured under a workers' compensation, disability benefits or unemployment compensation law or any similar law.

e. "Bodily injury" to:

(1) An employee of the insured arising out of and in the...

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