Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Steadfast Insurance Co. v. DBI Services, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware

July 25, 2019

STEADFAST INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DBI SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          Submitted: July 15, 2019

          ORDER REFUSING TO CERTIFY AN INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL

          PAUL R. WALLACE, JUDGE.

         This 25th day of July, 2019, upon consideration of Plaintiff Steadfast Insurance Company's application under Rule 42 of the Supreme Court for an order certifying an appeal from the interlocutory order of this Court, dated June 24, 2019, [1] it appears to the Court that:

(1) This is an insurance coverage action in which Plaintiff Steadfast Insurance Company denied it had any duty to defend and/or indemnify Defendant DBi Services, L.L.C., [2] under a Contractor's Protective Professional Indemnity and Liability Insurance Policy (the "Policy").
(2) Steadfast has now applied, under Delaware Supreme Court Rule 42, for this Court to certify its grant of DBi's partial motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether Steadfast had a duty to defend DBi under the Policy to the Supreme Court.[3] Steadfast maintains that this Court inappropriately rendered a case dispositive decision on the duty to defend, overlooking well-established New York law and ruling on contractual provisions as a matter of first impression under New York law. Steadfast claims that its application meets the criteria listed in Rules 42(b)(i)[4] and 42(b)(iii)(G) and (H).[5]
(3) Under Rule 42, the Court must: (a) determine that the order to be certified for appeal "decides a substantial issue of material importance that merits appellate review before a final judgment;"[6] (b) decide whether to certify via consideration of the eight factors listed in Rule 42(b)(iii);[7] (c) consider the Court's own assessment of the most efficient and just schedule to resolve the case; and then (d) identify whether and why the likely benefits of interlocutory review outweigh the probable costs, such that interlocutory review is in the interests of justice.[8] "If the balance is uncertain, the trial court should refuse to certify the interlocutory appeal."[9]
(4) Steadfast requests the Court's certification of its June 24, 2019 grant of DBi's partial motion for summary judgment.[10] The Court considers Steadfast's application under the rigorous standards of Rule 42.[11]
(5) The Court must first determine if the order that Steadfast seeks certification of "decides a substantial issue of material importance that merits appellate review before a final judgment."[12] The "substantial issue of material importance" prong of Rule 42 requires that the matter decided goes to the merits of the case.[13] The Delaware Supreme Court has before refused to entertain interlocutory appeals of decisions in contract cases.[14] This is because "[a]s a general matter, issues of contract interpretation are not worthy of interlocutory appeal."[15]While the Court agrees that there are no New York reported decisions interpreting the specific policy language at issue, this dearth does not create a "substantial issue of material importance" out of a mere contract dispute.[16] That might end it there. But engaging the remainder of the Rule 42 analysis further convinces the Court that certification for interlocutory review is not in the interests of justice in this case and should be refused.
(6) The Court must consider all eight factors in Rule 42(b)(iii), but "[a]fter considering these factors and its own assessment of the most efficient and just schedule to resolve the case, th[is] [ ] [C]ourt should identify whether and why the likely benefits . . . outweigh the probable costs, such that interlocutory review is in the interests of justice."[17] Here, Steadfast argues that two of the eight factors are met. But the Court disagrees.
(7) The Court does not believe that a successful interlocutory appeal on the duty to defend issue would necessarily terminate the litigation in its entirety. In making its June 2019 decision on the then-pending cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court noted that the duty to indemnify is distinct from the duty to defend.[18] With separate measurement dates and different criteria, [19] it is inappropriate for Steadfast to conflate the two duties for purposes of its application. The Court did not take up Steadfast's invitation to do so in deciding the case. And the Court cannot now endorse Steadfast's view that any duty to indemnify is wholly dependent on a positive or negative finding of a duty to defend. One can, under the right circumstances, exist without the other.
(8) Nor does the Court believe that certification would promote the most efficient and just schedule to resolve this case. In fact, Steadfast's contention that interlocutory review will conserve judicial resources again rests on the misguided notion that the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify are functionally the same. Even if interlocutory appeal would terminate this litigation a bit faster than through the appeal process, the Court does not find that these two (of eight) factors warrant granting Steadfast's certification request when considering the totality of the circumstances.[20] The posited benefits of the interlocutory review Steadfast now seeks simply do not outweigh the probable costs, such that the proposed interlocutory review is in the interests of justice. The Court finds, therefore, that Steadfast has failed to meet the strict standards for certification under Rule 42.[21]
(9) "Interlocutory appeals should be exceptional, not routine, because they disrupt the normal procession of litigation, cause delay, and can threaten to exhaust scarce party and judicial resources."[22] This case is not exceptional. And so the Court must refuse to certify this interlocutory appeal.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Steadfast Insurance Company's Application for Certification of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.