Amguard Ins. Co. v. Ortiz

Neutral As of: June 24, 2019 1:53 PM Z
Amguard Ins. Co. v. Ortiz
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
June 4, 2019, Decided; June 4, 2019, Filed
Civil No. CCB-18-3885

Reporter
2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94643 *
AMGUARD INSURANCE COMPANY v. CARLA A. ORTIZ, et at
Subsequent History: Related proceeding at Ortiz v. Ben Strong Trucking, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100381 (D. Md., June 14, 2019)

MEMORANDUM
There are two pending motions in this statutory interpleader insurance case which has been filed, along with a pending action in tort (CCB-18-cv-3230), in the aftermath of a deadly multi-vehicle accident that occurred on Interstate 95 in Harford County, Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 21.) One of the vehicles involved was a tractor trailer operated by Ben Strong Trucking (“Strong”) and its then-employee John Oliver Terry, Jr. Strong was insured under an automobile • liability insurance policy issued by AmGUARD Insurance (“Amguard”). (Compl. ¶ 20.) In the first motion, Amguard seeks the court’s permission to deposit the aggregate limit of the applicable insurance policy it issued to Strong, $1,000,000, with the court because “claims will likely exceed” that limit and Amguard is “unable to determine how the proceeds [*3] of the Policy should be divided among the Defendants.” (ECF No. 2 at p. 2.) The policy is No. NCFR 902718. Three defendants have responded to this motion, lodging no objections to Amguard’s deposit request but asking the court to permit discovery as to the existence of additional coverage. (ECF Nos. 41-42, 45.) Amguard’s original motion made no mention of discovery and Amguard has not replied to the defendants’ request that discovery into further coverage not be foreclosed at this juncture. Amguard’s motion for permission to deposit funds into the court’s registry will therefore be GRANTED, but it does not affect the scope of discovery. Matters pertaining to the value of claims asserted in this action, attorney’s fees, and costs are premature.
Secondly, a subset of individual defendants filed a partial motion for dismissal, seeking to preclude Amguard’s requested relief beyond (1) requiring the defendants to interplead and settle their respective rights to the insurance proceeds, (2) allowing Amguard to be discharged from its duty to indemnify Strong, and (3) allowing the requested deposit into the court’s registry. (ECF No. 37.) Amguard issued a rejoinder (ECF No. 54) stating that [*4] it will continue to defend under the policy and that it merely seeks an order restraining other claims against the policy. (Id. at pp. 3-4.) Ms. Ortiz has not filed a Reply and it appears the parties agree that Amguard’s duty to indemnify will be discharged by the deposit but that Amguard maintains an ongoing duty to defend the insured parties. The defendants do not seek dismissal of the relief sought under paragraphs (C), (D), (F). They do, however, object to Amguard’s request that the defendants be enjoined from (A) proceeding against Strong, Mr. Terry and/or Amguard for other claims arising out of the June 18, 2018 accident, (B) precluding Defendant J. L. from instituting new claims against said defendants while this action is pending, and (E) precluding the defendants from new claims against the policy after this matter is resolved. While Amguard affirms that its primary purpose is to deposit the funds, it does state that “[s]econdarily, Amguard seeks protections for its insureds, [Strong and Mr. Terry], if possible, as Ben Strong is no longer operating, has no assets, and has no excess policy, umbrella policy, or other insurance other than” the policy at issue here. ECF No. 54 at 3. At this stage of the case it [*5] is too early to assess matters beyond the deposit and the seemingly agreed-upon consequence of the deposit that Amguard’s duty to indemnify under the policy will be discharged. To the extent that the plaintiff seeks further relief or preclusive effect at this time, such requests are premature. Similarly, it is too early to assess whether the policy at issue here is the only source of relief for the defendants or other claimants in this case. Therefore, the defendants’ partial motion to dismiss will be DENIED without prejudice.
Two separate orders follow.
6/4/19
Date
/s/ Catherine C. Blake
Catherine C. Blake
United States District Judge

ORDER
For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that:
The defendants’ partial motion for dismissal (ECF No. 37) is DENIED without prejudice.
6/4/19
Date
/s/ Catherine C. Blake
Catherine C. Blake
United States District Judge

ORDER
UPON CONSIDERATION OF the Motion for Permission to Deposit Funds Into Registry of the Court filed by AmGUARD Insurance Company, Plaintiff in Interpleader, it is this 4 day of June, 2019
ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to accept from AmGUARD Insurance Company, the total sum of one million [*6] dollars ($1,000,000.00) in the form of check number 1829, dated December 13, 2018; and it is hereby
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court is directed to deposit all funds received from AmGUARD Insurance Company pursuant to this ORDER into the Registry of this Court to be deposited in an interest-bearing account in a federally insured bank and held until this Court orders further.
/s/ Catherine C. Blake
JUDGE, United States District Court for the
District of Maryland