United States District Court, N.D. New York
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER I.INTRODUCTION
Lawrense E. Kahn U.S. District Judge
case stems from a car accident that resulted in substantial
injuries to one of the defendants, Matthew Picard. Plaintiff
United Financial Casualty subsequently commenced this action
against Defendants John Paddon, Christina Paddon, John Paddon
and Son Paving and Construction, Inc., Matthew Picard,
B&L Motorsports Offroad Park, Jeff Hayes, Adam Wemple,
and TGW Productions, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment
from this Court. Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”)
¶¶ 1-9. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks a judgment
declaring that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify
any of the Defendants in relation to the underlying incident
or in a separate resulting lawsuit. Id. ¶ 41.
Currently before this Court is TGW's motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Dkt. No. 14 (“Motion to Dismiss”);
see also Dkt. Nos. 14-1 (“Memorandum”),
15-1 (“Response”), 16 (“Reply”). For
the following reasons, the Complaint is dismissed, sua
sponte, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The Underlying Dispute
incident underlying this case took place on July 12, 2013, at
an event called “Trucks Gone Wild.” Compl. ¶
13. This event, which Picard attended, took place on property
owned by Hayes in Fulton, New York. Id. Spectators
watched drivers operate ATVs, off-road vehicles, and sport
vehicles on a mud track. Id. ¶¶ 14, 17.
According to the Complaint, Trucks Gone Wild was promoted,
sponsored, hosted, and operated by B&L, Wemple, and TGW.
Id. ¶ 16.
point during the event, Picard was hit by a 1996 Ford F-350
pickup truck, which was owned and operated by John Paddon.
Id. ¶¶ 18-19. After the accident, Paddon
handed Picard a business card bearing the “John Paddon
and Son” company name. Id. ¶ 21. At the
time, Paddon and Son had an insurance policy with Plaintiff
(the “Policy”). Id. ¶ 22. According
to the Policy, Plaintiff agreed to pay any damages for bodily
injury that an insured became legally responsible for because
of an accident arising out of the ownership or use of an
“insured auto.” Id. ¶ 26. The
Policy defines “insured auto” as either (1) an
auto specifically described on the declarations page, (2) an
additional auto on the date the holder becomes the owner
(subject to limitations), or (3) any replacement auto on the
date the holder becomes the owner (subject to limitations).
alleges that it is not obligated to defend or indemnify any
of the Defendants because the auto involved in the incident
was not an insured auto under the Policy. Id.
¶¶ 32-37. Plaintiff contends that the truck is not
listed on the declarations page and that it does not
constitute an additional or replacement auto. Id.
¶¶ 34-35. Thus, on October 15, 2014, Plaintiff sent
a letter to Paddon and Son (copying Picard) denying coverage
for the incident. Id. ¶ 29.
are no allegations in the Complaint suggesting that Paddon
and Son, TGW, or any other defendant challenged or disputed
Plaintiff's determination in any manner.
sued Paddon and the rest of the Defendants for the injuries
that Paddon allegedly caused him in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of New York.
Id. ¶ 30; Picard v. Paddon, No.
16-CV-420 (N.D.N.Y. filed Apr. 13, 2016). Because of its
concern that Defendants will seek indemnification if Picard
is successful in his lawsuit, Plaintiff subsequently filed
the Complaint here seeking a declaration from the Court that
it need not defend or indemnify Defendants. Compl. ¶ 41.
response, TGW filed its motion, asserting that the Complaint
does not adequately specify why it is a defendant in this
case. Mem. at 4-6. In the alternative, TGW argues that the
Complaint should be amended to include a more definite
statement in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(e). Id. at 3-4. TGW's central argument is
that there are no specific allegations in the Complaint
establishing a controversy between it and Plaintiff, and thus
the Complaint has not stated a claim for declaratory
judgment. Id. at 4-6.
motion for default judgment against John Paddon, Christina
Paddon, Paddon and Son, B&L Motorsports, and Wemple is
also before the Court. Dkt. No. 30 (“Motion for Default
Judgment”). Plaintiff sets out the timetable for the
underlying action's commencement and the subsequent dates
of service of process. Dkt. No. 30-1 (“Attorney
Affirmation”) ¶¶ 3-24. On June 3, 2016,
Plaintiff commenced this declaratory judgment action by
filing its Complaint. Id. at 2. Shortly thereafter,
each defendant was served by either personal service or
substitute service. Id. ¶¶ 12-21.
Defendants Wemple and B&L Motorsports were served on June
14, 2016, and were due to appear July 5, 2016. Id.
Next, Paddon and Son was served on June 28, 2016, and was due
to appear July 18, 2016. Id. Finally, John and
Christina Paddon were served on September 30, 2016, and both
were due to appear October 21, 2016. Id.
alleges that all of these defendants have failed to plead or
otherwise defend the action and thus are in default. On
September 6, 2016, the Clerk of the Court issued an entry of
default against Paddon and Son, B&L Motorsports, and
Wemple. Id. ¶ 22. On December 20, 2016, the
clerk entered default against John and Christina Paddon.
Id. ¶ 23.