Glover v. Hryniewich

Decision Date28 September 2022
Docket NumberCivil Action 2:17CV109 (RCY)
PartiesDAVID I. GLOVER and TIMOTHY B. PRIDEMORE, Plaintiffs, v. RICHARD J. HRYNIEWICH, and THE CITY OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, Defendants and Third-Party Plaintiffs, v. SAFE BOATS INTERNATIONAL, LLC, and WILLARD MARINE, INC., Third-Party Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia

DAVID I. GLOVER and TIMOTHY B. PRIDEMORE, Plaintiffs,
v.

RICHARD J. HRYNIEWICH, and THE CITY OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, Defendants and Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.

SAFE BOATS INTERNATIONAL, LLC, and WILLARD MARINE, INC., Third-Party Defendants.

Civil Action No. 2:17CV109 (RCY)

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

September 28, 2022


MEMORANDUM OPINION

Roderick C. Young, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Third-Party Defendant Willard Marine, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 243). The motion has been briefed, and the Court dispenses with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the Court, and oral argument would not aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7(J). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will deny Third-Party Defendant Willard Marine, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 243).

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I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS[1]

In 2007, the City of Norfolk (“the City”) purchased a vessel, Marine 5, from Safe Boats International, LLC, (“Safe Boats”) to use in maritime security operations. (Def. Hryniewich's Third-Party Compl. Safe Boats ¶¶ 5-8, ECF No. 27.) In 2014, the City entered into a contract with Willard Marine, Inc. (“Willard Marine”) to refit Marine 5, a “2007 27-foot SAFE Boats International 270 Full-Cabin patrol boat.” (Def. City's Third-Party Compl. Willard Marine ¶ 5, ECF No. 28.)[2] The contract with Willard Marine (“Contract”) required Willard Marine to replace Marine 5's “twin 250-hp engines with twin 300-hp engines.” (Id. ¶ 6; see Contract 4-6, ECF No. 37-1.)[3] In the “Goods and Services” section, the Contract listed “$8,488.69” as the labor cost to “remove old motors and rigging, install new motors & accessories, test and perform sea trial,” and $36,631.00 for the cost of the two 300-horsepower outboard motors, for a total cost of $45,119.69. (Contract 5-6.) The Contract's “Scope of Work” section also called for Willard Marine to conduct a sea trial with employees of the City on board the vessel after the engines had been refitted. (Id. 6-7.) The City included insurance requirements for Willard Marine in the Contract, requiring the City of Norfolk to be listed as an additional insured for the project and mandating that “[i]nsurance shall be maintained during the entire term of the resulting contract and any extensions.” (Id. 10.)[4]In specifying what forms of insurance must be in place, the Contract stated:

Forms

Limits

Workers' Compensation

Statutory

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Automobile Liability

$1,000,000 Combined Single Limit

Commercial General Liability,

$1,000,000 Combined Single Limit

including Contractual Liability and Products and Completed Operations Coverage Professional Liability

$1,000,000 Combined Limit

Umbrella/Excess Liability

$1,000,000

(Id. 11.) The Contract also noted that the “establishment of minimum limits of insurance by the City does not reduce or limit the liability or responsibilities of the Successful Bidder.” (Id.)

The insurance policy at issue herein was a policy obtained by Willard Marine from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (“Travelers”) with an effective date from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014 with a total premium cost of $54,279 (“Policy”) (Policy 8, ECF No. 243-4).[5] Willard Marine notes that under “Section II: General Liability Coverages, Coverage A: Bodily Injury and Property Damage,” the Policy states that Travelers “will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay” due to bodily injury and property damage that “takes place during the policy period and is caused by an occurrence.” (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 4-5, ECF No. 244.) Willard Marine also notes that the Policy included a “Blanket Additional Insured Endorsement” that amended the General Conditions of the Policy to include as an additional insured, “any person or organization whom the Named Insured is required to add as an additional insured on this policy under: (1) any written contract.” (Id. 6.) Willard Marine contends that the City “was automatically an additional insured by virtue of the Blanket Additional Insured Endorsement.” (Id.) Willard Marine also notes that the Policy contained several exclusions, one of which stated that “[t]his insurance does not apply to: [w]atercraft,” specifically that the insurance would not apply to “‘[b]odily injury' or ‘property damage' arising out of the ownership or operation of any watercraft: (a) [o]wned by an insured; [or] (b) [c]hartered, leased, rented, or loaned to an insured.” (Id. 5.)

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Acting on the Contract, Willard Marine replaced Marine 5's twin 250-hp engines with twin 300-hp engines, her steering system, and two of her crew seats. (Def. City's Third-Party Compl. Willard Marine ¶ 8, ECF No. 28.) On March 21, 2014, two Willard Marine employees, Timothy Pridemore and David Glover (“Plaintiffs”), brought Marine 5 to Willoughby Bay to conduct the sea trial. (Id. ¶¶ 10-12.) Shortly thereafter, the sea trial was conducted with Defendant Richard Hryniewich and two other City employees present on behalf of the City and Plaintiffs present on behalf of Willard Marine. (Id. ¶¶ 12-15.) All five men launched Marine 5, and Defendant Hryniewich operated the vessel. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) During the sea trial, Defendant Hryniewich pushed the vessel to a high speed and made a hard turn. (Id. ¶ 16.) The vessel capsized and all those on board were thrown into the water, with Plaintiffs suffering severe injuries. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendants Hryniewich and the City of Norfolk (“Third-Party Plaintiffs”) for the injuries sustained in the accident. (Def. City's Third-Party Compl. Willard Marine ¶ 17.)

On December 13, 2016, Travelers declined to provide a defense or indemnity to Defendants Hryniewich and the City in their pending lawsuit with Plaintiffs. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 6; Declination Letter 6, ECF No. 243-5.) Travelers cited both the Watercraft Exclusion and the Blanket Additional Insured Endorsement in its explanation of the declination. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 6; Declination Letter 5.)

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action presents a lengthy and complex procedural history, but only the pertinent parts are reproduced below.[6] Defendants (and Third-Party Plaintiffs) Hryniewich and the City filed

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their Third-Party Complaints against Willard Marine and Safe Boats on October 30, 2017, alleging a claim of breach of contract to procure insurance as to Willard Marine (ECF Nos. 26, 28).[7]

On December 29, 2021, Willard Marine filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 243). Hryniewich and the City filed their Brief in Opposition to Willard Marine's Motion for Summary Judgment on January 11, 2022 (ECF No. 247) and Willard Marine filed its Reply on January 18, 2022 (ECF No. 248).

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriately granted when there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute about a material fact is genuine when the “evidence is such that a reasonable [fact finder] could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact.” DiSciullo v. Griggs & Co. Homes, 2015 WL 6393813, at *4 (E.D. N.C. Oct. 22, 2015). The burden then “shifts to the nonmoving party to show that there are genuine issues of material fact.” Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th Cir. 2008). “Evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [non-movant's] favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (“On summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in [affidavits, attached exhibits, and depositions] must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.”). “Furthermore, a ‘material fact' is a fact that might affect the outcome of a party's case.” Marlow v. Chesterfield Cty. Sch. Bd., 749 F.Supp.2d 417, 426-27 (E.D. Va. 2010)

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(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). “Whether a fact is considered to be ‘material' is determined by the substantive law, and ‘[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'” Id. at 428. “In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court does not resolve the dispute itself; instead, it finds only that there is sufficient evidence of the dispute requiring that ‘the parties' differing versions of the truth' be resolved at trial.” Diprete v. 950 Fairview St., LLC, No. 1:15CV00034, 2016 WL 6137000, at *2 (W.D. Va. Oct. 21, 2016) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49). “If the evidence as a whole is susceptible of more than one reasonable inference, a [fact finder] issue is created and a motion for judgment as a matter of law should be denied.” Myrick v. Prime Ins. Syndicate, Inc., 395 F.3d 485, 489-90 (4th Cir. 2005).

IV. DISCUSSION

The City and Officer Hryniewich allege a breach of contract due to Willard Marine's failure to procure the appropriate insurance that would cover the City for any liability incurred during the sea trial. (Def. City's Third-Party Compl. Willard Marine ¶¶ 18-25.) Willard Marine asks for summary judgment “on the grounds that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the contract forming the basis for the [Third-Party Plaintiffs'] claims does not impose a duty upon Willard Marine to procure a commercial general liability policy of insurance without a watercraft exclusion.” (Mot. Summ. J. 1.)...

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