United States District Court, D. Idaho
METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
ROBERT R. COSSEY, STACY N. COSSEY, TYLER COSSEY, and JOSHUA BAILEY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye, U.S. District Court Judge
matter comes before the Court on the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkts. 26, 27. Having
reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the
facts and legal arguments are adequately presented.
Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and
because the Court finds that the decisional process would not
be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will
decide the motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc.
Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court enters summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff.
Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company
(“Met P&C”) is an insurance company organized
and existing under the laws of Rhode Island with its
principal place of business in Warwick, Rhode Island. At all
relevant times, Met P&C was duly authorized to issue
policies of insurance covering certain risks within the State
of Idaho. Defendant Robert Cossey maintains a primary
residence in Spokane County, Washington. At times material to
this matter, Defendant Robert R. Cossey also maintained a
second home in Priest River, Bonner County, Idaho. Defendant
Stacy N. Cossey maintains a primary residence in Spokane
County, Washington. At times material to this matter,
Defendant Stacy N. Cossey also maintained a second home in
Priest River, Bonner County, Idaho. Defendant Tyler Cossey
maintains a residence in Spokane County, Washington.
Defendant Tyler Cossey is the son of Defendants Robert R.
Cossey and Stacy N. Cossey. Defendant Joshua Bailey maintains
a residence in Spokane County, Washington.
and Stacy Cossey had in effect a policy of insurance,
entitled Homeowner's Insurance Policy (hereinafter the
“Policy”), issued by Met P&C with a policy
term commencing November 09, 2015, and continuing until
November 09, 2016, for a vacation home owned by Robert and
Stacy Cossey located at Rte. 1, Box 51E, Priest River, Idaho,
83856. The Policy provides coverage in the amount of $300,
000.00 for bodily injury and property damage.
Cosseys also owned a 2006 Sea Ray Model 195 Sport boat which
was 20 feet in length and had a 190 horsepower motor (the
“Boat”). At all times material to this matter,
the Boat was moored at or near the vacation home. The Cosseys
purchased a watercraft policy of insurance, issued by Safeco
Insurance, with a policy term commencing January 18, 2016,
and continuing until January 18, 2017, specifically covering
the Boat (the “Boat Policy”). The Boat Policy
provides coverage in the amount of $300, 000.00 for bodily
injury and property damage. In addition to the Boat Policy,
the Cosseys purchased an umbrella policy of insurance
covering their automobiles and watercraft (the Boat), also
issued by Safeco Insurance, with a policy term commencing
January 18, 2016, and continuing until January 18, 2017 (the
“Umbrella Policy”). The Umbrella Policy provided
coverage in the amount of $1, 000, 000.00.
prior to July 2, 2016, Tyler Cossey, with the permission of
the Cosseys, invited several friends to the vacation home to
celebrate the 4th of July weekend. Among the invitees were
William “Riley” Devine, Joshua Bailey, Lauren
Devine, Jeff Groat, and Lisa Groat. Tyler and some of his
friends arrived at the vacation house on July 2, 2016. The
Groat's arrived on July 3, 2016. Jeff Groat had recently
purchased a Jet Ski that he brought with him to the vacation
afternoon of July 3, 2016, Tyler Cossey and his friends took
the Boat and the Jet Ski out on the Pend Oreille River. With
the permission of Tyler Cossey, Joshua Bailey was driving the
Boat. Tyler Cossey, Abigail Lentz, and Danielle Grams were on
an inner tube being pulled by the Boat. Riley Devine was on
the Jet Ski and was trying to jump the wake behind the Boat
and the inner tube. At some point, he crashed into the inner
tube, the Jet Ski striking Abigail Lentz in the face.
Danielle Grams was also injured, having sustained a cracked
rib and a partially collapsed lung. As a result of the
above-described incident, Abigail Lentz underwent surgery,
facial reconstruction with plates and wires in her mouth, and
about November 28, 2016, counsel for Abigail Lentz made a
demand to Met P&C and its insureds, Robert and Stacy
Cossey, as well as their son, Tyler Cossey, and the operator
of the boat, Joshua Bailey, for payment of $1.7 million
dollars, which exceeds the total amount of coverage under all
of the insurance policies of the Cossey's, to settle Ms.
Lentz's damage claims. On or about December 12, 2016, Met
P&C sent a letter to the Cosseys denying coverage for
liability arising out of the July 3, 2016, watercraft
December 30, 2016, Met P&C filed a Complaint in this
Court asserting one claim for relief: a declaratory judgment
proclaiming “that Met P&C owes no duty, contractual
or otherwise, to” (1) “pay sums that the
Defendants may become obligated to pay as damages for
‘bodily injury' as a result of the allegations pled
in or otherwise connected with the July 3, 2016 incident,
” or (2) “defend, or otherwise pay for the cost
of defending, the Defendants in any matter involving the July
3, 2016 incident.” Dkt. 1, at 6.
4, 2017, the parties filed a Joint Statement of Undisputed
Facts. Dkt. 25. Then, on June 7, 2017, the parties filed
cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkts. 26, 27. After these
motions were fully briefed, Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush
reassigned this case to the undersigned. Dkt. 31.
judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). This Court's role at summary judgment is not
“to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436,
441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). However, “the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). There must be
a genuine dispute as to any material fact-a fact “that
may affect the outcome of the case.” Id. at
cross-motions for summary judgment are filed, the Court must
independently search the record for factual disputes.
Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc. v.
Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir.2001). The
filing of cross-motions for summary judgment-where both
parties essentially assert that there are no material factual
disputes-does not vitiate the court's responsibility to
determine whether disputes as to material facts are present.
The Applicable Law
Idaho Supreme Court has instructed that, “[w]hen
interpreting insurance policies” under Idaho law,
courts should apply “the general rules of contract law
subject to certain special canons of construction.”
Clark v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 66
P.3d 242, 244 (Idaho 2003). Under these general rules, the
Court must determine whether or not there is an ambiguity in
the policy, “[b]eginning with the plain language of the
insurance policy.” Id. “Determining
whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law upon
which this Court exercises free review.” Id.
at 245. “Where the policy is reasonably subject to
differing interpretations, the language is ambiguous and its
meaning is a question of fact.” Id. In
resolving this question of law, the Court must construe the
policy “as a whole, not by an isolated phrase.”
Selkirk Seed Co. v. State Ins. Fund, 18 P.3d 956,
959 (Idaho 2000). Generally, “because insurance
contracts are adhesion contracts, typically not subject to
negotiation between the parties, any ambiguity that exists in
the contract ‘must be construed most strongly against
the insurer.'” Farmers Ins. Co. of Idaho v.
Talbot, 987 P.2d 1043, 1047 (Idaho 1999) (quoting
Mut. of Enumclaw Ins. Co. v. Roberts, 912 P.2d 119,
122 (Idaho 1996)). “The burden is on the insurer to use
clear and precise language if it wishes to restrict the scope
of coverage and exclusions not stated with specificity will
not be presumed or inferred.” Clark, 66 P.3d
Idaho law and consistent with other states, an insurer's
duties to defend and indemnify are separate duties.”
Hoyle v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 48 P.3d 1256, 1264
(2002). “The duty to defend is broader than the duty to
indemnify.” Id. A “third-party's
complaint [that] reveals a potential for liability that would
be covered by the insured's policy” triggers the
duty to defend. Id.