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Unique Insurance Co. v. Perez

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

July 2, 2019

UNIQUE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
JULIO CESAR AGUILAR PEREZ and SUSAN FULLER, Defendants.

          FRENSLEY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Unique Insurance Company (“Unique”) filed this action against Defendants Julio Cesar Aquilar Perez and Susan Fuller seeking a declaration of its rights and obligations arising under an auto insurance policy Unique issued to Mr. Perez. Unique asserts there is no coverage under the policy for the underlying claim brought against Mr. Perez by Ms. Fuller. Before the Court is Plaintiff's unopposed motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 22). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and a Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. Nos. 22, 24) on January 31, 2019. According to the Case Management Order filed on December 12, 2018, any Response was due 28 days after the filing of the Motion (Doc. No. 18.) Mr. Perez was served by publication and has not responded to any filings in this case. Ms. Fuller's attorney withdrew from the case on March 8, 2019. The Court extended the deadline for Ms. Fuller to file a response to the motion for summary judgment to May 3, 2019 (Doc. No. 30). That deadline has passed, and Ms. Fuller has not responded to the Statement of Undisputed Facts or the summary judgment motion or made any other filings in this case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 26, 2017, Mr. Perez and Ms. Fuller were involved in a car accident in Maury County, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1-1 at ¶ 6.) The vehicle operated by Mr. Perez struck the rear of the vehicle operated by Ms. Fuller. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Mr. Perez was unable to provide the responding officers with a driver's license, admitted he had been drinking, and failed a number of field sobriety tests. (Doc. No. 1-2 at 5.) Mr. Perez was charged with driving without a license and driving under the influence. (Id.) He pled guilty to driving under the influence. (Doc. No. 1-3.) The charge of driving without a license was dismissed as part of the plea. (Id.)

         Ms. Fuller filed suit in the Maury County Circuit Court against Mr. Perez seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and costs arising from injuries she sustained in the car accident. (Doc. No. 1-2.)

         At the time of the accident, Mr. Perez held an auto insurance policy with Unique. The policy included the following statement of coverage:

We will pay damages for bodily injury or property damage for which a Covered Person, as defined in this Part, becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident. We will settle or defend, as we consider appropriate, any claim or suit asking for these damages. In addition to our limit of liability, we will pay all defense costs we incur. We will not pay damages for bodily injury or property damage caused by a Non-Covered Person, nor will we defend or pay any cost of defense. (Doc. No. 1-4 at 6.)

         Among the definitions of “Non-Covered Person” is “an operator of a vehicle who is an unlicensed driver.” (Id.)

         The policy also had numerous exclusions from coverage, two of which have been raised by Unique as applicable here. The policy states:

We do not provide Liability Coverage for any person: … 9. For bodily injury or property damages which may reasonably be expected to result from the acts of an insured person, or from the criminal acts of an insured person, or which are, in fact, intended by an insured person to cause bodily injury or property damage…
11. For the payment of punitive or exemplary damages, whether arising from or resulting from actual or alleged malicious, intentional, fraudulent or reckless conduct. (Id. at 7.)

         Unique seeks a declaratory judgment that it has no obligations under the policy because Mr. Perez was an unlicensed driver and therefore not a covered person, because he was engaged an the criminal act of driving under the influence at the time of the ...


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