United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Ball, No. 18-1657

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtNIEMEYER, Circuit Judge
Citation941 F.3d 710
Decision Date30 October 2019
Docket NumberNo. 18-1657
Parties UNITED FINANCIAL CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. Greg Allen BALL, Defendant - Appellant, and Milton Hardware, LLC; Builders Discount, LLC; Rodney Perry, Defendants.

941 F.3d 710

UNITED FINANCIAL CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
Greg Allen BALL, Defendant - Appellant,
and
Milton Hardware, LLC; Builders Discount, LLC; Rodney Perry, Defendants.

No. 18-1657

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Argued: September 18, 2019
Decided: October 30, 2019


ARGUED: Stephen Brooks Farmer, FARMER, CLINE & CAMPBELL, PLLC, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant. Susan Renee Snowden, JACKSON KELLY, PLLC, Martinsburg, West Virginia, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Jennifer D. Roush, FARMER, CLINE & CAMPBELL, PLLC, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant.

Before WILKINSON, NIEMEYER, and AGEE, Circuit Judges.

Vacated and remanded by published opinion. Judge Niemeyer wrote the opinion, in which Judge Wilkinson and Judge Agee joined.

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

941 F.3d 712

In this appeal, we determine whether the Worker’s Compensation exclusion or the Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability exclusion in a standard commercial automobile insurance policy excludes coverage for the liability of a third-party permissive user of an insured vehicle who caused personal injuries to an employee of a named insured.

While employees of Milton Hardware, LLC, including Milton Hardware’s owner, were performing construction work at the home of Rodney Perry in Milton, West Virginia, Milton Hardware’s owner authorized Perry to move one of Milton Hardware’s trucks, which was blocking the driveway. In doing so, however, Perry accidentally struck a Milton Hardware employee, Greg Ball, causing him serious injuries.

When Ball requested indemnification from Milton Hardware’s insurer, United Financial Casualty Company, United Financial denied coverage and commenced this action for a declaratory judgment that the policy it issued to Milton Hardware did not cover Perry’s liability for Ball’s injuries. The district court agreed. While the court recognized that Perry was a permissive user of the truck and therefore an "insured," as defined in United Financial’s policy, the court concluded that the Worker’s Compensation exclusion in the policy eliminated coverage because Ball was an employee of a named insured and the policy excluded coverage for "[a]ny obligation for which an insured ... may be held liable under workers’ compensation ... law." Because of this holding, the court did not directly address the Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability exclusion, on which United Financial had also relied to deny coverage.

We conclude that because Ball’s negligence claim against Perry was a claim against a third party, rather than a claim against his employer for workers’ compensation, the Worker’s Compensation exclusion did not apply. We also conclude that the policy’s broader exclusion for Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability, which on its face would apply to exclude coverage for Perry’s liability to Ball, was inoperable because its limitation of coverage contravened West Virginia Code § 33-6-31, which requires motor vehicle insurance policies issued in the State to provide liability coverage to individuals using an insured vehicle with the owner’s consent, except when the injured person can claim workers’ compensation in connection with an accident for which his employer is liable. Because we conclude that neither the Worker’s Compensation exclusion nor the Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability exclusion bar coverage to Perry as an insured, we vacate the district court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I

The accident that caused Greg Ball’s injuries occurred on October 25, 2016, at the home of Rodney Perry, where Milton Hardware was performing construction work on Perry’s carport. At one point during the work, Milton Hardware’s owner directed Ball and another employee to load debris into a Milton Hardware truck, but another Milton Hardware truck was in the driveway blocking their ability to do so. Milton Hardware’s owner then gave Perry, the homeowner, permission to move that truck. As Perry was backing up, he accidentally hit Ball, temporarily pinning him between the truck Perry was driving and another Milton Hardware truck. As a result, Ball sustained serious injuries that required hospitalization.

941 F.3d 713

At the time of the accident, Milton Hardware had a commercial automobile liability insurance policy issued by United Financial, which provided liability coverage to Milton Hardware and to any person using Milton Hardware’s vehicles with its permission. Based on this provision, Ball demanded that United Financial indemnify him for the injuries that he claimed were caused by Perry’s negligence. United Financial denied coverage and commenced this action against the named insureds, Milton Hardware and Builders Discount, LLC, as well as Perry and Ball, asserting that coverage for Perry’s liability to Ball was barred by both the policy’s Worker’s Compensation exclusion and its Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability exclusion. Ball filed a crossclaim against Perry, seeking damages for his negligence, and a counterclaim against United Financial, asserting several claims. Specifically, he sought a declaratory judgment (1) that the Worker’s Compensation exclusion did not apply; (2) that the Employee Indemnification and Employer’s Liability exclusion violated West Virginia Code § 33-6-31(a) and therefore did not apply; (3) alternatively, that he was entitled to Uninsured Motorist coverage under the policy; and (4) that he was entitled to Medical Payments coverage under another provision of the policy. In addition, Ball sought money damages from United Financial, alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenants of good faith and fair dealing, unfair trade practices, and common law bad faith.

On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted United Financial’s motion and denied Ball’s and Perry’s motions by order dated May 14, 2018. The court concluded that because Ball "sustained his injuries while he was working within the course of his employment with Milton Hardware," his injuries fell within the scope of the Worker’s Compensation exclusion and "that, as a result, he [was] barred from liability coverage under the policy." The court also rejected Ball’s argument that West Virginia Code § 33-6-31(a) required United Financial to extend liability coverage to Perry as a permissive user of an insured automobile, reasoning that the exception in § 33-6-31(h) applied to eliminate this requirement. See W. Va. Code § 33-6-31(h) (providing that subsection (a) does "not apply to any policy of insurance to the extent that it covers the liability of an employer to his or her employees under any workers’ compensation law"). While the court acknowledged Ball’s argument that the exception in § 33-6-31(h) was inapplicable because his tort claim was against a third party and not his employer, the court adhered to its position because "it...

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5 practice notes
  • United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Milton Hardware, LLC, CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-2002
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of this case. In October 2016, Milton Hardware LLC was performing a construction job at Rodney Perry's home. United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Ball, 941 F.3d 710, 712 (4th Cir. 2019). At one point, Milton Hardware's owner gave Perry permission to move a company truck. Id. As Perry backed up, he accid......
  • United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Ball, 20-1452
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 23, 2022
    ...Ball's appeal, we vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. United Financial Casualty Co. v. Ball , 941 F.3d 710 (4th Cir. 2019). We held first that "because Ball's negligence claim against Perry was a claim against a third party, rather than a claim agains......
  • Akers v. Quality Carriers, Inc., Civil Action 2:21-cv-00660
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • February 7, 2022
    ...the Act, immune from common law liability to its employees for negligently causing injuries.” United Financial Casualty Company v. Ball, 941 F.3d 710, 714 (4thCir. 2019). This general immunity from suit “is not easily lost.” Roney v. Gencorp, 431 F.Supp.2d 622, 627 (S.D. W.Va. 2006). Under ......
  • Mullins v. Allied Waste Servs. of N. Am., Civil Action 3:20-0735
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • September 30, 2021
    ...common law liability to its employees for negligently causing injuries. See W.Va. Code Ann. § 23-4-2(d)(1); United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Bell, 941 F.3d 710, 714 (4th Cir. 2019). Again, this immunity is only overcome if a showing of deliberate intent is made. See W.Va. Code Ann. § 23-4-2(d)(2). I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Milton Hardware, LLC, CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-2002
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of this case. In October 2016, Milton Hardware LLC was performing a construction job at Rodney Perry's home. United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Ball, 941 F.3d 710, 712 (4th Cir. 2019). At one point, Milton Hardware's owner gave Perry permission to move a company truck. Id. As Perry backed up, he accid......
  • United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Ball, 20-1452
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 23, 2022
    ...Ball's appeal, we vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. United Financial Casualty Co. v. Ball , 941 F.3d 710 (4th Cir. 2019). We held first that "because Ball's negligence claim against Perry was a claim against a third party, rather than a claim agains......
  • Akers v. Quality Carriers, Inc., Civil Action 2:21-cv-00660
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • February 7, 2022
    ...the Act, immune from common law liability to its employees for negligently causing injuries.” United Financial Casualty Company v. Ball, 941 F.3d 710, 714 (4thCir. 2019). This general immunity from suit “is not easily lost.” Roney v. Gencorp, 431 F.Supp.2d 622, 627 (S.D. W.Va. 2006). Under ......
  • Mullins v. Allied Waste Servs. of N. Am., Civil Action 3:20-0735
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • September 30, 2021
    ...common law liability to its employees for negligently causing injuries. See W.Va. Code Ann. § 23-4-2(d)(1); United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Bell, 941 F.3d 710, 714 (4th Cir. 2019). Again, this immunity is only overcome if a showing of deliberate intent is made. See W.Va. Code Ann. § 23-4-2(d)(2). I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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