United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
DANNY SWAFFORD, individually and d/b/a SWAFFORD FARMS, Plaintiff,
FORESTRY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant
For Danny Swafford, doing business as Swafford Farms, Plaintiff: Richard L Moore, LEAD ATTORNEY, Moore, Rader, Fitzpatrick and York, P. C., Cookeville, TN.
For Forestry Mutual Insurance Company, Defendant: David A Draper, LEAD ATTORNEY, William Paul Whitt, Lewis, Thomason, King, Krieg & Waldrop, P.C. (Knox), Knoxville, TN.
CURTIS L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Before the Court are a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Forestry Mutual Insurance Company (" Defendant" ) (Court File No. 8) and a motion requesting oral argument by Plaintiff Danny Swafford (" Plaintiff" ) (Court File No. 14). Plaintiff responded to Defendant's summary judgment motion (Court File No. 11) and Defendant filed a reply (Court File No. 18). For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Defendant's motion for summary judgment and DENY AS MOOT Plaintiff's motion for oral argument.
Plaintiff operates Swafford Farms as a sole proprietorship (Court File No. 2-2, p. 3). Defendant issued " Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance Policy" No. 0010000040071111 (" the Policy" ) covering Swafford Farms from July 23, 2011 to July 23, 2012 ( id. at 8). The Policy contained a provision requiring Defendant to defend Plaintiff in suits for which benefits or damages would be payable under the Policy ( id. at 10, 12). On February 28, 2013, Albert Wayne Capshaw (" Capshaw" ) filed a complaint (" the Capshaw Complaint" ) in Warren County Circuit Court alleging Capshaw was injured while working for Plaintiff as an independent contractor on April 3, 2012 (Court File No. 2-3, p. 1). Plaintiff filed the instant action in Bledsoe County Chancery Court seeking a declaratory judgment that Defendant's duty to defend extends to the Capshaw Complaint (Court File No. 2-2, p. 2). Defendant removed to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction (Court File No. 2). Defendant's motion for summary judgment argues that, on the undisputed facts, Defendant had no duty to defend because the Capshaw Complaint does not state a claim which would be covered under the policy (Court File No. 8).
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper when " 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). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 897 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court should view the evidence, including all reasonable inferences, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Nat'l Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).
To survive a motion for summary judgment, " the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and come forward with specific facts to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue for trial." Chao v. Hall Holding Co., Inc.,
285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). Indeed, a " [plaintiff] is not entitled to a trial on the basis of mere allegations." Smith v. City of Chattanooga, No. 1:08-cv-63, 2009 WL 3762961, at *2-3 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 4, 2009) (explaining the court must determine whether " the record contains sufficient facts and admissible evidence from which a rational jury could reasonably find in favor of [the] plaintiff" ). In addition, should the non-moving party fail to provide evidence to support an essential element of its case, the movant can meet its burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact exists by pointing out such failure to the court. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989).
At summary judgment, the Court's role is limited to determining whether the case contains sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). If the Court concludes a fair-minded jury could not return a verdict in favor of the non-movant based on the record, the Court should ...