United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
N. JOHNSON, JR., UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
declaratory judgment action proceeds before the court on
plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Amended
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 19 & 22). For the
reasons set out herein, the court GRANTS the
summary judgment motions.
to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[t]he court
shall grant summary judgment 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. Rule 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment
bears the initial responsibility of informing the district
court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those
portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Clark v.
Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608
(11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)).
movant sustains its burden, a non-moving party demonstrates a
genuine issue of material fact by producing evidence by which
a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict in its favor.
Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., 498 F.3d
1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
The non-movant sustains this burden by demonstrating
“that the record in fact contains supporting evidence,
sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion.”
Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1116
(11th Cir. 1993). In the alternative, the
non-movant may “come forward with additional evidence
sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial
based on the alleged evidentiary deficiency.”
Id. at 1116-17; see also Doe v Drummond
Co., 782 F.3d 576, 603-04 (11th Cir. 2015),
cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 1168 (2016).
“court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of
the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
(2000) (citations omitted). “‘Credibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions,
not those of a judge.'” Id. (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986)). “Thus, although the court should review the
record as a whole, it must disregard all evidence favorable
to the moving party that the jury is not required to
believe.” Reeves, 530 U.S. at 151 (citation
omitted). “That is, the court should give credence to
the evidence favoring the nonmovant as well as that
‘evidence supporting the moving party that is
uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least to the extent that
that evidence comes from disinterested witnesses.'”
Id. (citation omitted).
“mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate
time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails
to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. “In such a
situation, there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any
material fact,' since a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 322-23. In addition, a movant may prevail on
summary judgment by submitting evidence
“negating [an] opponent's claim, ”
that is, by producing materials disproving an essential
element of a non-movant's claim or defense. Id.
at 323 (emphasis in original).
the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on its claims, its
status as the summary-judgment movant requires it to
establish there is no genuine dispute of material fact as to
all of the elements of its claim and, concomitantly, that it
deserves judgment as a matter of law on the claims. See
Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115
(11th Cir. 1993) (“The movant must show . .
. on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears
the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find
for the non-moving party.”).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Catlin Specialty Insurance Company (Catlin) issued a
commercial general liability insurance policy to Joseph J.
Johnson d/b/a JJ's Fun & Recreational Center (Johnson
or JJ's), effective May 25, 2014, through May 25, 2015.
The named insured on the policy is Joseph J. Johnson d/b/a
JJ's Fun & Recreational Center. Johnson is a
defendant in two actions pending in the Madison County
Circuit Court: Khloe Walker, by and through her mother
and next friend, Tunishia Monique Armstrong v. Joseph J.
Johnson d/b/a JJ's Fun & Recreation Center, et
al., Civil Action No. CV-2016-902040, and Larry
Malone, as Administrator of the Estate of Larneal Donell
McDonald v. Joseph J. Johnson d/b/a JJ's Fun &
Recreation Center, et al., Civil Action No. 2017-900307.
Walker action alleges JJ's served Terrance
Walker alcoholic beverages on March 1, 2015, despite his
visible intoxication. After Walker left the establishment, he
was involved in a motor vehicle accident which caused his
death. The Walker action asserts an Alabama
Alcoholic Beverages Control Board Rule No.
20-X-6-.02 claim; a Dram Shop Act claim; negligent
or wanton hiring, supervision,  and/or training; negligent
performance of a voluntary undertaking; and negligent/wanton
McDonald action alleges that McDonald died in the
same accident that resulted in Walker's death. The
McDonald action asserts claims under Alabama
Alcoholic Beverages Control Board Rule No. 20-X-6-.02 and the
Dram Shop Act, negligence, and wantonness.
seeks a declaration it owes no duty to defend or indemnify
Johnson in the underlying state court actions based on the
Total Liquor Liability exclusion in the pertinent policy.
Catlin indicates that Johnson does not oppose its summary
judgment motion, and only Walker and Armstrong filed an
opposition to Catlin's summary judgment motion. Further,
in answer to the complaint, Johnson admitted Catlin has no
duty to defend or indemnify because of the Total Liquor
Liability Exclusion. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 16; Doc. 3 at ¶
policy at issue obligates Catlin to pay “those sums
that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages
because of ‘bodily injury'…to which this
insurance applies”; Catlin “will have the right
and duty to defend the insured against any ‘suit'
seeking those damages”; and Catlin “will have no
duty to defend the insured against any ‘suit'