United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the parties' competing
motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 48 & 52), as well
as Plaintiff Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance
Company's motion to amend its complaint (ECF No. 49). For
the following reasons, the Court grants Garrison's
summary-judgment motion, finds Garrison's motion to amend
moot, and denies Defendant Candace Rickborn's motion.
declaratory judgment action arises out of an automobile
collision involving Rickborn and Alexander Cothran, who was
at fault. Rickborn sued Cothran in state court for injuring
her by negligently operating his employer's pickup truck.
After obtaining a judgment against Cothran in that case,
Rickborn made a claim to Garrison seeking liability benefits
under an insurance policy that Garrison issued for
Cothran's personal vehicle, which was not involved in the
collision. Garrison denied Rickborn's claim and then
filed this action.
insuring agreement in Garrison's policy generally states
that Garrison will defend and indemnify Cothran for bodily
injury and property damages he causes while using any
automobile. Garrison contends, however, that coverage is
barred under one or more of the policy's exclusions.
Rickborn disputes that position and argues Garrison is
obligated to satisfy the judgment she obtained against
judgment should be granted when there are no genuine disputes
of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The judge may not
weigh the evidence but rather must determine if there is a
genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). All evidence should be
viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121,
124 (4th Cir. 1990). “[I]t is ultimately the
nonmovant's burden to persuade [the court] that there is
indeed a dispute of material fact. It must provide more than
a scintilla of evidence-and not merely conclusory allegations
or speculation-upon which a jury could properly find in its
favor.” CoreTel Va., LLC v. Verizon Va., LLC,
752 F.3d 364, 370 (4th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).
“[W]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
disposition by summary judgment is appropriate.”
Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947
F.2d 115, 119 (4th Cir. 1991).
opposing parties both seek summary judgment, the Court
applies the same standard to both motions. See Northfield
Ins. Co. v. Boxley, 215 F.Supp.2d 656, 657 (D. Md.
2002). The court rules on each motion separately,
determining, in each case, whether a judgment may be entered
in accordance with Rule 56. Id. at 658. The mere
fact that both parties seek summary judgment “does not
establish that there is no issue of fact and require that
summary judgment be granted to one side or another.”
Am. Fid. & Cas. Co. v. London & Edinburgh Ins.
Co., 354 F.2d 214, 216 (4th Cir. 1965)). Nevertheless,
dueling motions for summary judgment “may be probative
of the nonexistence of a factual dispute, ” because
“when both parties proceed on the same legal theory and
rely on the same material facts the court is signaled that
the case is ripe for summary judgment.” Shook v.
United States, 713 F.2d 662, 665 (11th Cir. 1983)
parties agree that South Carolina law governs their dispute.
In South Carolina, insurance policies are subject to the
general rules of contract construction. Nationwide Mut.
Ins. Co. v. Commercial Bank, 479 S.E.2d 524, 526 (S.C.
1996). The insurer's duties under a policy of insurance
are set forth by the terms of the policy and cannot be
enlarged or curtailed by judicial construction. Id.
Therefore, the Court must give clear policy language its
plain, ordinary, and popular meaning. See id.
However, where policy provisions may be reasonably
interpreted in more than one way, the court must use the
interpretation most favorable to the insured. State Farm
Fire & Cas. Co. v. Barrett, 530 S.E.2d 132, 136
(S.C. Ct. App. 2000).
argues that any potential benefits for Rickborn are barred
under exclusion A.7 of the policy, which provides as follows:
do not provide Liability Coverage for any covered
. . . .
7. Maintaining or using any vehicle while that person is
employed or otherwise engaged in any business or occupation
other than the auto business, farming, or ranching. This
exclusion (A.7.) does not apply to the use of a private
passenger auto; a pickup or a van that you own; or a trailer
used with these vehicles.
(Compl., Ex. A, Insurance Policy, ECF No. 5, at
The parties agree that, at the time of the collision, Cothran
was driving his boss's pickup truck while engaged in an
occupation other than the auto business, farming, or
ranching. They also agree that Cothran did not own
the truck he was driving and that no trailer was involved in
the collision. This case boils down, then, to one ...