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Harper v. Blakeney

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

January 4, 2017

ALLIE J. HARPER, III, Plaintiff,
v.
CEDRICK BLAKENEY; JOHN R. NEAL; NEAL MCCOY ENTERPRISES, LLC; BUDGET TRUCK RENTAL, LLC; MCCALLUM GROUP ENTERPRISES, INC.; and ATLANTIC CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS MCCALLUM GROUP ENTERPRISES, INC.'S AND BUDGET TRUCK RENTAL, LLC'S MOTIONS FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed this case as a negligence and declaratory judgment action. The Court has jurisdiction over the matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, ECF No. 106, Defendant McCallum Group Enterprises, Inc. (McCallum)'s motion for partial summary judgment, ECF No. 103, and Defendant Budget Truck Rental, LLC (Budget)'s motion for partial summary judgment, ECF No. 107.[*] Having carefully considered the motions, the responses, the replies, the record, and the applicable law, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion and grant McCallum's and Budget's motions.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The relevant facts for purposes of this Order are largely undisputed. This action arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m. on July 19, 2014, on northbound Interstate Highway 77 in South Carolina when Defendant Cedrick Blakeney (Blakeney)'s truck (the truck) allegedly struck Plaintiff's car (the accident).

         Defendants propound Blakeney is an independent contractor who drives for Defendant Neal McCoy Enterprises, LLC (McCoy). McCoy is a delivery company that delivers automobile parts, including tires and wheels. McCallum is a logistics company and has a contractual delivery agreement with McCoy (the agreement). The terms of the agreement are detailed below. Defendant John R. Neal (Neal), on behalf of McCoy, leased the truck from Budget, a national truck rental company. According to the Oklahoma registration, the unladen weight of the truck is 12, 000 pounds.

         The accident occurred as Blakeney drove the truck from one of McCallum's facilities in Columbia, South Carolina, to one of its facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina. Under the agreement, five nights a week, Blakeney, on behalf of McCoy, picks up a truck at Dealer Tire in Charlotte, travels to McCallum's warehouse in Charlotte, then to its warehouse in Columbia, and then back to its warehouse in Charlotte. The agreement specifically provides McCallum “does not control or direct the means or manner in which [McCoy] performs the services (e.g. which streets to take from a pick-up site to a deliver[y] site, the make and model of the delivery vehicle, the order in which services are rendered, etc.).” ECF No. 103-6 at 1.

         Further, the agreement states McCoy shall: (a) “provide a safe vehicle and all other equipment (whether by ownership, lease, or otherwise) that, in [McCoy's] sole judgment, is necessary and suitable for the rendition of the delivery services, ” (b) “be solely responsible for the operation of all equipment used in rendering the delivery services, ” (c) “obtain and maintain all necessary permits, licenses, and registrations to render the delivery services, ” and (d) “obtain all necessary and appropriate training as [McCallum] does not provide any formal or informal training or instruction regarding rendition of the delivery services.” Id. at 5-6. The agreement also requires McCoy to satisfy the following insurance requirement:

(c) for trucks with a gross weight of more than 10, 000 pounds, [McCoy] shall carry and keep in full force and effect commercial auto liability insurance covering bodily injury and property damage, with a liability limit of not less than $1, 000, 000 combined single limit and a deductible of no greater than $1, 000, including an additional insured endorsement naming [McCallum] as additional insured as well as its officers and directors and any subsidiaries and affiliated corporations. (d) provide [McCallum] with a copy of an insurance policy that evidences the foregoing insurance coverages and amounts. If the scope of this Agreement involves more than one vehicle, [McCoy] shall carry and keep in full force and effect the appropriate level of coverage must be provided [sic] for all other vehicles, whether owned or not.

Id. at 6-7. Therefore, according to these terms, because the truck is 12, 000 pounds, McCoy was required to carry a $1, 000, 000 policy and present a copy of the policy to McCallum.

         Although McCoy possesses a Commercial Automobile Policy issued by Defendant Atlantic Casualty Insurance Company (Atlantic) for the period when the accident occurred, Policy #BA3013585-0, the maximum amount of bodily injury liability coverage under that policy is $100, 000 per person and $300, 000 per accident. Because the truck is neither a “Covered Auto” nor a “Temporary Substitute” for a “Covered Auto” under the terms of the Atlantic policy, however, this Court granted Atlantic's motion for summary judgment on November 3, 2016, and declared Atlantic's policy provides no coverage for the parties at hand in connection with the accident. ECF No. 118.

         McCoy leased the truck from Budget pursuant to a rental agreement on a commercial account for a fourteen-day period at a rate of $600.00 per week. The rental agreement contains the following provisions regarding insurance:

If the Truck is used for commercial (non-personal use) purposes, you will be required to purchase one of our liability coverages or provide a certificate of insurance[.] . . . .
If you accept Supplemental Liability Insurance (“SLI”) at the start of your rental and pay the SLI fee stated on the Rental Document, then the higher limits of liability protection provided by SLI will apply to your rental. The protection provided by SLI will be primary and the combined limits of liability protection will be $2, 000, 000 for each person for bodily injury, death or property damage, but not more than $2, 000, 000 for each accident[.] . . . .
If you are a commercial customer you may elect to provide liability insurance instead of purchasing our liability coverages and damage waivers. If you do as indicated on the Rental Document, you agree to insure the Truck under a standard form automobile liability insurance policy, with Budget Truck Rental, LLC and Budget Rent A Car System, Inc., named as an additional insured, covering all risks of loss or damage to persons or property arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, or operation of the Truck during the rental, regardless of fault. The limits of this insurance will not be less than a combined single limit of $750, 000 for all bodily injury and property damage arising from anyone accident or such higher limits as we may require. You agree to provide us with a certificate of insurance, evidencing the required coverage and limits of liability before using the Truck. You agree that optional SLI will not be available to you after you have elected to provide your own liability insurance.

ECF No. 106-2 at 8-9. Here, when Neal leased the truck from Budget for commercial purposes on behalf of McCoy, he failed to purchase liability insurance from Budget and specifically ...


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