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American Modern Home Insurance Co. v. Duffy

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 13, 2014

AMERICAN MODERN HOME INSURANCE COMPANY, an Ohio corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
DOLAN DUFFY, a citizen of Montana, Defendant.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CAROLYN S. OSTBY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff American Modern Home Insurance Company ("American") seeks a judicial declaration that it has paid all applicable insurance coverage limits to Defendant Dolan Duffy ("Duffy"), after Duffy sustained a dog bite injury at the residence of American's insured. ECF 1. [1]

Now pending is American's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF 17. Having considered the parties' arguments and submissions, the Court recommends that American's motion be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

In June 2011, Duffy sustained bodily injuries after he was bitten by a dog at the residence of Debbie Paige and her son, Travis Paige, in Butte, Montana. ECF 18 at ¶¶ 4, 6, 7; ECF 23-1 at ¶¶ 4-5. American insured the property on which Duffy was injured under Policy Number N077 032685 XXXXXXXXXX 25 T60 (the "Policy"). Aff. Jeff Morgan (ECF 19) at ¶ 7. Both Debbie and Travis were "insureds" under the Policy, and the dog that bit Duffy was owned by them, or was in their care and custody. ECF 18 at ¶¶ 6-8; ECF 23-1 at ¶¶ 6-8. As indicated by the citations above, these facts are undisputed.

The Policy's declarations page states: "THIS POLICY PROVIDES ONLY THE FOLLOWING COVERAGES FOR THIS UNIT...." and then lists several items of coverage, split between two sections. Section 1 is identified as "DWELLING PROPERTY BASIC FORM" ( ECF 19 at 21-29 ) and Section 2 is identified as "PERSONAL LIABILITY" ( ECF 19 at 30-36 ). Section 2 includes, among others, "COVERAGE L - PERSONAL LIABILITY EA. OCC.", "COVERAGE M - MEDICAL PAYMENTS EA. PERSON" and "COVERAGE L - ANIMAL LIABILITY EA. OCC." See Policy (ECF 19) at 4 (caps in original). Coverage L - Personal Liability lists a policy limit of $100, 000 and a premium of $50. Id . at 4. Coverage L - Animal Liability lists a policy limit of $10, 000, with no stated premium. Id. Coverage M - Medical Payments lists a per person policy limit of $1, 000, also with no stated premium. Id.

The Policy contains a "SPECIAL LIMIT FOR ANIMAL LIABILITY" endorsement, numbered 73183 02/08, found on page 5 of the Policy. Id . at 8. A reference to endorsement number 73183 02/08 appears on the declarations page. See Id. at 4. The Animal Liability endorsement provides, in its entirety:

Your policy is amended as follows:
LIABILITY COVERAGES
COVERAGE L - PERSONAL LIABILITY
We will not pay more than $10, 000 for any claim made or suit brought against any "insured" for "bodily injury" or "property damage" caused by or contributed to by any animal owned by, or in the care or custody of any "insured". This limit is the maximum we will pay for any one "occurrence".
All Definitions and Conditions of the Personal Liability Coverage Part apply. All other provisions of the policy apply.

Id . at 8.

Duffy has demanded that American pay his bodily injury claims against Debbie and Travis stemming from the dog bite incident. ECF 18 at ¶ 11; ECF 23-1 at ¶ 13. American has paid Duffy the $10, 000 limit under Coverage L - Animal Liability and the $1, 000 limit ...


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