United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
ORDER FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
Declaratory Judgment action was filed by Auto-Owners
Insurance Company (“Owners”) pursuant to the
Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and
was commenced October 3, 2018. [Doc. 1]. Jurisdiction in this
matter is premised upon 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendants
were served with the summons and complaint on October 15,
2018. [Doc. 5-1; 6-1; ]. No. responsive pleading was filed
within the time allowed under the rules of procedure and
Owners asked the clerk to enter default on November 7, 2018.
[Doc. 7; 8]. The clerk entered default in this matter on
November 9, 2018. [Doc. 9]. Owners filed a motion for summary
judgment on December 10, 2018, which this Court has construed
as a motion for default judgment. [Doc. 10]. No. response to
the motion was filed, and it is now ripe for consideration.
and Defendants are completely diverse for purposes of 28
U.S.C. § 1332 [Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 1-2]. Owners sold
to Jessie Tom Rippy and Hilda Rippy (collectively
“Rippy” and/or “the Insured”) a
homeowners insurance policy with effective dates of June 5,
2015, through June 5, 2016. The policy number is
49-506-334-00. The policy has liability limits of $300, 000
(hereinafter “the Policy”). [Doc. 1 at
¶¶ 5 and 1-1]. The Policy insured the premises
known as 635 Mount Calvary Road, Dillon, South Carolina 29536
(hereinafter “the property”). [Doc. 1 at ¶
6]. Joseph Rippy (“Joseph”) is the Insured's
son and qualifies as an insured under the Policy as a
resident relative. [Doc. 1 at ¶ 2].
alleges he sustained injuries at the property on May 25,
2016. [Doc 1 at ¶ 8 and 1-2]. Joseph brought a lawsuit
against his father for negligence arising out of the
injuries. Id. Owners agreed to provide a defense
pursuant to a reservation of rights dated November 20, 2017,
and thereafter on or about May 22, 2018. [Doc. 1 at ¶
to the Policy, “Insured” means: b. your
relatives. See Section Definitions Para 5.
“Relative” is defined as “a person who
resides with you and who is related to you by blood, marriage
or adoption. Relative includes a ward or foster child who
resides with you.” According to Exclusion 2.b. (6) of
the policy: “Coverage E - Personal Liability does not
apply to bodily injury or personal injury to any
insured.” The Policy is not ambiguous. [Doc. 1 at
¶¶ 12-13]. The lawsuit that Owners is defending
which was brought by Joseph is seeking damages from his
father which arise of alleged “bodily injury”.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the entry
of a default judgment when a defendant fails to plead or
otherwise defend in accordance with the Rules. United
States v. Moradi, 673 F.2d 725, 727 (4th Cir. 1982).
Upon the entry of default, the defaulted party is deemed to
have admitted all well-pleaded allegations of fact contained
in the complaint. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network,
253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001). However, the defendant is
not deemed to have admitted conclusions of law and the entry
of “default is not treated as an absolute confession by
the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff's
right to recover.” Ryan, 253 F.3d at
780. Rather, in determining whether to enter
judgment on the default, the court must determine whether the
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint support the relief
sought. See Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780.
virtue of Defendants' default in this lawsuit, Defendants
have admitted both their status as "insureds" and
the application of the above-noted policy exclusion.
Accordingly, Owners is absolved of any obligation to defend
or indemnify the Defendants in the underlying suit.
THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, that Owners'
motion for summary judgment, which the Court construes as a
motion for default judgment [Doc. 10], is granted
and judgment is hereby entered in favor of Owners and the
Clerk is instructed to enter judgment in favor of Owners,
thus, ending this matter.
IS SO ORDERED!
 “The defendant by his default,
admits the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact.
. . .” Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253