United States District Court, D. Colorado
T. BABCOCK, JUDGE
me are cross-motions for summary judgment on this declaratory
judgment action filed by Plaintiff Philadelphia Indemnity
Insurance Company (“Philadelphia Indemnity”). The
Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Frank Wiley
(“Mr. Wiley”) seeks dismissal of Philadelphia
Indemnity's request for declaratory relief regarding its
duties to defend and to indemnify, under the at-issue
insurance policy, for injuries Mr. Wiley incurred during a
ski accident in March of 2016. [Doc #50]
Philadelphia Indemnity's Motion for Summary Judgment
seeks judgment in its favor, and a declaration that there is
no duty to defend or indemnify. [Doc #51]
Oral arguments would not materially assist me in my
determination. After consideration of the parties'
briefs, and for the reasons stated, I DENY Mr. Wiley's
motion. In addition, I GRANT the motion filed by Philadelphia
Indemnity, I ORDER declaratory relief as requested, and I
ORDER the entry of summary judgment in its favor.
March 8, 2016, Mr. Wiley was injured in a ski accident at
Wolf Creek Ski Resort that he claims was caused by the
negligence of Taylor Greer (the “ski accident”).
Mr. Greer was on a high school youth ski trip to Colorado
organized by North Texas Annual Conference of the United
Methodist Church (“NTAC”) and Stonebridge United
Methodist Church (“Stonebridge Church”). At the
time of the accident, NTAC was insured under a general
liability policy issued by Philadelphia Indemnity (PHPK
1301820 - effective from April 1, 2015 through April 1,
2016). Stonebridge Church was also a named insured under the
policy as an affiliated church.
August 9, 2016, Mr. Wiley sued Mr. Greer for the personal
injuries he sustained as a result of the ski accident in
State of Colorado District Court, Mineral County, Case No.
2016-CV-3002 (the “state court action”). Mr.
Wiley claimed that Mr. Greer was a new snowboarder and that,
at the time of the accident, he was on terrain above his
skill level when he gained too much speed and ran into Mr.
Wiley, the downhill skier. Mr. Wiley also brought claims
against NTAC and Stonebridge Church for failure to supervise
Mr. Greer by allowing him to snowboard on terrain above his
ability and without proper knowledge of skiing protocol.
on December 6, 2016, Philadelphia Indemnity filed this
lawsuit seeking declaratory relief under the Federal
Declaratory Judgments Law, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et
seq. and Fed.R.Civ.P. 57, against NTAC, Stonebridge
Church, Mr. Wiley and Mr. Greer. Specifically, Philadelphia
Indemnity sought a declaration that it had no duty to provide
insurance coverage for the ski accident. [Doc #31]
March 28, 2017, default judgment was entered against NTAC and
Stonebridge Church after they failed to file a response or
enter an appearance in this case. [Doc #22] On April 4, 2017,
default judgment was entered against Mr. Greer for failure to
enter an appearance in this case. [Doc #32] The orders of
default declared that: (1) Philadelphia Indemnity “has
no duty to provide insurance, including defense or indemnity,
coverage to Taylor Greer for the ski accident which took
place on March 8, 2016 at Wolf Creek Ski Area, Mineral
County, State of Colorado, involving Mr. Greer and Frank
Wiley” and (2) “there is no coverage under any
part of the [Philadelphia Indemnity] policy for the March 8,
2016 ski accident.” Default judgment was not entered
against Defendant Wiley, who has filed a response and remains
a party to this action.
in September of 2017, Mr. Wiley settled his claims in the
state court action with Mr. Greer for $900, 000. Mr. Wiley
agreed to partial payment from Mr. Greer of $100, 000, and
further agreed not to execute on or make any efforts to
collect/enforce the balance of the judgment “except to
the extent of coverage from Philadelphia [Indemnity].”
[Doc #56-1] Mr. Wiley also settled his state court claims for
failure to supervise against NTAC and Stonebridge Church for
$12, 500. [Doc #50-6] Following negotiation of the settlement
agreements, the parties' filed the cross-motions for
summary judgment at issue here.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion, Mr. Wiley contends that he is entitled to summary
judgment in his favor on the question of whether Philadelphia
Indemnity: (1) had a duty to defend Mr. Greer in the
underlying state court action; and (2) has a duty to
indemnify and provide coverage for the injuries Mr. Wiley
incurred during the ski accident on March 8, 2016. [Doc #50]
Specifically, he argues that Philadelphia Indemnity owes a
duty to defend Mr. Greer because the allegations in the state
court action “contain multiple facts and claims
[against Mr. Greer] that might fall within the ambit of the
policy.” Mr. Wiley further argues that Philadelphia
Indemnity owes a duty to indemnify NTAC, Stonebridge Church,
and Mr. Greer because the facts as developed, including their
subsequent settlement with Mr. Wiley, reveal that Mr. Greer
was covered by the policy because he was engaging in a church
activity at the time of the accident.
Indemnity, in its motion, asserts that it is entitled to
summary judgment in its favor and a declaration that it has
no duty to defend or to indemnify any party for the damages
incurred by Mr. Wiley in the ski accident. [Doc #51]
Philadelphia Indemnity argues that because NTAC, Stonebridge
Church, and Mr. Greer have failed to respond, default
judgment was entered against them which indicated that
“there is no coverage under any part of the policy for
the March 8, 2016 ski accident.” Although Mr. Wiley was
not subject to a default judgment, Philadelphia Indemnity
argues that he has no standing to seek a determination of
coverage. Philadelphia Indemnity also asserts, in the
alternative, that it is entitled to summary judgment and
declaratory relief because the policy does not provide
coverage in that Mr. Greer did not, at the time of the ski
accident, incur liability due to the activities of
Stonebridge Church as an entity, nor was he acting on
Stonebridge Church's behalf.
standard for granting summary judgment on a request for a
declaratory judgment is the same as for any other type of
relief. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Eagle Gen.
Contractors, Inc., 2007 WL 3090765 (D. Colo.
2007)(unpublished); see also United States v.
Gammache, 713 F.2d 588, 594 (10th Cir. 1983). Summary
judgment is appropriate when the moving party can demonstrate
that there is no genuine issue of material fact and it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c);
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); see also Plaza Ins.
Co. v. Lester, 110 F.Supp.3d 1041, 1043 (D. Colo.
2015)(noting that when the material facts relevant to a
declaratory judgment claim are undisputed, cross-motions
seeking summary judgment can be determined as a matter of
address Philadelphia Indemnity's argument that because
default judgment has been entered against NTAC, Stonebridge
Church, and Mr. Greer in this matter, and because it is
undisputed that they have settled the underlying state court
action with Mr. Wiley, Philadelphia Indemnity is ...