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Maryland Casualty Co. v. Grigoli Enterprises Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 13, 2014

MARYLAND CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
GRIGOLI ENTERPRISES INC. d/b/a DOMINICK'S PIZZA, DOMINICK GRIGOLI, JARED JOSEPH THOMPSON, MELISSA RIVERA-PENA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF CIDAMARIE BROWN, DECEASED, AND GUARDIAN A.D. LITEM FOR M.W., HER MINOR CHILD, AND DAMAR BROWN, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SHERRY R. FALLON, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The Plaintiff, Maryland Casualty Company ("Maryland Casualty"), filed this declaratory judgment action on October 5, 2012, against Defendants Grigoli Enterprises, Inc. ("Dominick's Pizza"), Dominick Grigoli ("Mr. Grigoli"), Jared Joseph Thompson ("Thompson"), Melissa Rivera-Pena ("Rivera-Pena"), and Damar Brown ("Mr. Brown"). (D.I. 1) This action arises from two civil lawsuits filed individually by Rivera-Pena and Mr. Brown in the Superior Court of Delaware (the "Underlying Complaints"), [1] seeking damages in connection with a motor vehicle accident that occurred on June 8, 2010 (the "Accident"). ( See id, Exs. B, C) Maryland Casualty seeks a declaration from this court that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify Dominick's Pizza, Mr. Grigoli, or Thompson for any claims asserted against them in the Underlying Complaints.

Pending before the court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Maryland Casualty (D.I. 25) and Rivera-Pena (D.I. 22). Thompson filed a notice of joinder in the motion of co-defendant Rivera-Pena. (D.I. 28) The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332(a)(2).[2] For the reasons that follow, I recommend that Maryland Casualty's motion be GRANTED, and the cross-motion of Rivera-Pena and Thompson be DENIED.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Accident

The Underlying Complaints allege generally that on June 8, 2010, while Thompson was driving a 1994 Chrysler Town & Country minivan along Pleasant Valley Road in Newark, Delaware, he struck two minor children. (D.I. 1, Exs. B, C) The minivan was owned and entrusted to Thompson by his father, Charles L. Thompson. ( Id. ) Thompson was operating the minivan in the course and scope of his employment as a pizza delivery driver for Dominick's Pizza. ( Id. ) One of the minor children, Cidamarie Brown, died the next day as a result of the injuries she sustained, while the second minor child sustained unspecified bodily injuries, pain and suffering, mental distress, and other damages. ( Id. ) Rivera-Pena is the mother of the two minors, and Mr. Brown is the father of Cidamarie Brown. ( Id. )

The Underlying Complaints assert, inter alia, that Thompson was negligent and/or reckless in operating his vehicle. ( See id. ) The Underlying Complaints also allege that Defendants Dominick's Pizza and Mr. Grigoli are vicariously liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior for Thompson's alleged negligent and reckless conduct. ( Id. )

Furthermore, the Underlying Complaints allege that Dominick's Pizza and Mr. Grigoli were independently negligent and reckless because they:

(1) failed to perform a proper background check on Thompson;
(2) improperly hired Thompson as a delivery driver despite his history of moving violations;
(3) failed to properly train, monitor, and supervise Thompson;
(4) entrusted delivery duties to Thompson even though they should have known that he was an unsafe driving risk; and
(5) entrusted delivery duties to Thompson knowing he could act negligently, carelessly and/or recklessly in a manner that would cause injury to another person.

( Id. )

B. The Insurance Policy

Maryland Casualty is an insurance company that issued a Precision Portfolio Insurance Policy, number PPS 43182972 (the "Policy"), with limits of $1, 000, 000 for each Occurrence and $2, 000, 000 General Aggregate to its named insured, Dominick's Pizza. (D.I. 1 at 4) The Policy is a package policy that contains both a Commercial Property Coverage Part and a Commercial General Liability Coverage Part. ( Id. ) The Policy period began on March 24, 2008, and the parties do not dispute that the Policy was in effect at the time of the Accident. ( See id. )

The Policy provides, in relevant part:

1. Insuring Agreement
a. We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of "bodily injury" or "property damage" to which this insurance applies. We will have the right and duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking those damages. However, we will have no duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking damages for "bodily injury" or "property damage" to which this insurance does not apply....
b. This insurance applies to "bodily injury" and "property damage" only if:
(1) The "bodily injury" or "property damage" is caused by an "occurrence" that takes place in the "coverage territory"; and
(2) The "bodily injury" or "property damage" occurs during the policy period.
c. Damages because of "bodily injury" include damages claimed by any person or organization for care, loss of services or death resulting at any ...

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