United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
C. BUCKLEW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on USAA Casualty Insurance
Company's Motion to Intervene. (Doc. No. 19). Defendant
Ace American Insurance Company opposes the motion. (Doc. No.
24). As explained below, the motion is granted.
William Lawrence alleges the following in his amended
complaint (Doc. No. 15): Defendant Ace American Insurance
Company (“Ace”) issued a business auto policy to
Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc./Jacobs Technology
(“Jacobs”). Jacobs employed Benjamin Wintersteen,
and Jacobs provided Wintersteen with use of a rental vehicle
from Hertz during part of his employment.
driving the rental vehicle, Wintersteen injured Plaintiff
Lawrence in a car accident. Lawrence sued Wintersteen, and
Wintersteen sought coverage under the Ace insurance policy.
Wintersteen had insurance coverage through USAA. Ace denied
Lawrence, Wintersteen, USAA Casualty, and USAA UM settled
Lawrence's claims by entering into a stipulated judgment.
Specifically, they agreed that Lawrence sustained damages
totaling $750, 000, and they agreed to the entry of a $750,
000 judgment against Wintersteen. In partial satisfaction of
that judgment, Lawrence was paid $100, 000 from Hertz and
$250, 000 from USAA Casualty (“USAA”); the
remaining $400, 000 remains unpaid. Wintersteen assigned to
Lawrence his rights to sue Ace in exchange for Lawrence
agreeing not to execute the unpaid $400, 000 judgment against
Lawrence filed the instant lawsuit against Ace, asserting
three claims. First, Lawrence seeks a declaratory judgment
that Wintersteen was insured under Ace's auto insurance
policy for the accident at issue and that Ace's insurance
policy provides coverage for the $400, 000 unpaid balance of
the judgment owed by Wintersteen. Second, Lawrence asserts a
claim for Ace to pay the $400, 000 in damages. Third,
Lawrence asserts a promissory estoppel claim against Ace,
alleging that Ace told Jacobs that the Ace policy would
provide coverage for accidents that occurred when a Jacobs
employee rented a vehicle.
Motion to Intervene
instant motion, USAA moves to intervene in this case in order
to assert three claims. First, USAA asserts a claim for
declaratory judgment and damages. Specifically, USAA asks the
Court to declare that Ace's insurance policy provides
coverage for Lawrence's claims and that Ace should have
paid $242, 275 towards the $250, 000 that Ace paid under the
settlement agreement. Second, USAA asserts a claim for
contribution and subrogation against Ace, and USAA asks the
Court to enter judgment against Ace in the amount of $242,
275. Third, USAA asserts a promissory estoppel claim,
alleging that Ace should be estopped from denying coverage
because Ace told Jacobs that the Ace policy would provide
coverage for accidents that occurred when a Jacobs employee
rented a vehicle.
Rule of Civil Procedure 24 provides for two types of
intervention: (1) intervention of right, and (2) permissive
intervention. USAA argues that it meets the requirements for
both types of intervention. Because the Court agrees that
permissive intervention applies, it will not address
intervention of right.
24(b) provides that “the court may permit anyone to
intervene who . . . has a claim . . . that shares with the
main action a common question of law or fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1)(B). It is clear to this Court that
USAA's claims share common questions of law and fact with
Lawrence's claims; particularly the issue of whether
Ace's insurance policy provides coverage for the
accident. If that answer is no, both Lawrence's and
USAA's claims are simultaneously resolved. If that answer
is yes, USAA raises the related issues of the interplay
between the USAA policy and Ace's policy.
24(b) also cautions that “the court must consider
whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the
adjudication of the original parties' rights.” Ace
opposes USAA's motion for permissive intervention,
arguing that allowing intervention will inject additional
issues into this lawsuit and delay adjudication. While it is
true that USAA's intervention will inject additional
issues into this lawsuit, the Court finds that those issues
are sufficiently related to justify permissive intervention
and that they will not unduly delay or prejudice the
adjudication of the original parties' rights.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that USAA's motion for
permissive intervention is granted.