United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
TAMARA JEAN PEACE, as Administrator of the Estate of Donald Ray Peace, Plaintiff,
KEITH ROCK, et al., Defendants. COLUMBIA INSURANCE COMPANY,, Plaintiff,
ROCK TRANSPORTATION, LLC, et al.,, Defendants. PROGRESSIVE NORTHERN INSURANCE COMPANY,, Plaintiff,
TAMARA JEAN PEACE, et al.,, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Plaintiff Columbia Insurance
Company's (“Columbia”) Motion for Default
Declaratory Judgment Against Certain Defendants. (Doc. 24).
Columbia's complaint named Rock Transportation LLC; Rock
Trans. LLC, d/b/a Rock Transportation LLC (“Rock
Trans.”); Rock Trans, LLC, d/b/a Rock Transportation
LLC (“Rock Trans”); Keith Rock; RDW Transport,
LLC; Berkley Scrap Metal; William R. Moorer, III d/b/a
Berkley Scrap Metal and/or Berkeley Scrap Metal; and Tamara
Jean Peace; and it sought a declaratory judgment that it owed
no party any duty to defend or indemnify under its commercial
insurance policy with Rock Transportation LLC. (Doc. 1 at 2, 7-
Clerk entered default against all of the defendants except
Ms. Peace. (Doc. 23). Columbia then moved under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 55 for a default judgment against those
defendants who had defaulted. (Doc. 24). Because
Columbia's well-pleaded allegations and the evidence
support its claim for declaratory judgment, the court
WILL GRANT the motion for default judgment
and WILL ENTER DEFAULT DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
in favor of Columbia and against Rock Transportation, Rock
Trans., Rock Trans, Mr. Rock, RDW Transport, Berkley Scrap
Metal, and Mr. Moorer.
defaulting defendant “admits the plaintiff's
well-pleaded allegations of fact” for purposes of
liability. Buchanan v. Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361
(11th Cir. 1987) (quotation marks omitted)). Accordingly, the
court takes as true the well-pleaded allegations of
The Insurance Policy
issued a commercial auto insurance policy with a
cross-reference number of 71 APS 070989 to Defendant Rock
Transportation. (Doc. 24-1 at 9). The policy provided
coverage for a 1988 Peterbilt tractor from February 24, 2017
to February 24, 2018. (Id.).
policy provides that Columbia “will pay all sums an
‘insured' legally must pay as damages because of
‘bodily injury' or ‘property damage' to
which this insurance applies, caused by an
‘accident' and resulting from the ownership,
maintenance or use of a covered ‘auto.'”
(Id. at 13). The policy further provides that
Columbia has “the right and duty to defend any
‘insured' against a ‘suit' asking for
such damages.” (Id.). But the policy also
includes exclusions. One endorsement titled “Truckers -
Insurance for Non-Trucking Use” provides, among other
This insurance does not apply while the power unit (tractor)
is used for the towing or transporting of any
trailer or semi-trailer, or while in the
process of having a trailer or semi-trailer
attached to or detached from it, unless such
trailer or semi-trailer is owned by
you and specifically described in the policy
at time of loss.
(Doc. 24-1 at 38) (emphases in original). The only vehicle
identified in the policy is the 1988 Peterbilt tractor.
(Id. at 9).
The State Court Lawsuit
November 2017, Ms. Peace filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court
of St. Clair County, Alabama, against, among others, Mr.
Rock, RDW Transport, Rock Trans, and Berkeley Scrap Metal.
(Doc. 24-2 at 2). She alleged that on May 23, 2017, while
traveling in St. Clair County, Alabama, Donald Ray Peace and
Mr. Rock were involved in a car accident that resulted in Mr.
Peace's death. (Id. at 7-8). At the time of the
accident, Mr. Rock was driving the 1988 Peterbuilt tractor
covered under Columbia's insurance policy. (Id.
at 8-9, 13; see also Doc. 24-1 at 9). He was towing
a trailer. (Doc. 24-2 at 8-9, 13). Ms. Peace asserted various
state law torts against Mr. Rock, RDW, Rock Trans, and
Berkeley Scrap Metal. (Id. at 11- 17).
The Federal Lawsuit
reaction to Ms. Peace's state court lawsuit, Columbia
Insurance Company filed this federal lawsuit seeking a
declaratory judgment that it has no obligation to defend or
indemnify any party under its policy with Rock Transportation
LLC. (Doc. 1). It timely served RDW Transport, Berkley Scrap
Metal, Mr. Moorer, Mr. Rock, Rock Trans., Rock Trans, and
Rock Transportation. (Docs. 7, 15, 17, 18). After those
defendants failed to plead or otherwise defend the action,
Columbia moved for entry of default against them, which the
Clerk granted. (Docs. 22, 23). Columbia then ...