United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS and SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiffs,
JOSEPH A. TREMBLAY, CODY JAMES MORRISON, ROMARRIO ANTHONY SCOTT, RAQUEL MARIA NUNEZ, JULIE LIPPSON and STEVEN LIPPSON, Defendants.
AMENDED  OPINION AND ORDER
POLSTER CHAPPELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Safeco Insurance
Company of Illinois and Safeco Insurance Company of
America's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendants
Joseph A. Tremblay, Romarrio Anthony Scott, Raquel Maria
Nunez, Julie Lippson, and Steven Lippson. (Doc.
95). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants
bring this declaratory judgment action to resolve an
insurance coverage dispute. In July 2015, Defendant Joseph
Tremblay leased a Nissan Rogue for Defendant Julie Lippson.
(Doc. 78 at ¶ 5). In July 2016, Julie's
husband, Seth Lippson, was driving the Rogue when he
allegedly caused an accident that injured Morrison. (Id.
at ¶ 7). Morrison sued Tremblay and Seth Lippson
for negligence in Florida state court. (Doc. 78-13).
the accident, Plaintiffs issued four insurance policies to
Tremblay - none of which covered the Rogue. Specifically,
Safeco Illinois issued Tremblay two car insurance policies
and named Tremblay and Louise Wilcox as the rated drivers.
(Docs. 78 at ¶¶ 1-2; 78-2; 78-3). It also issued
Tremblay a motorcycle insurance policy and named him as the
only rated driver. (Docs. 78 at ¶ 3; 78-4). In addition
to the car and motorcycle policies, Safeco America issued
Tremblay an umbrella insurance policy that, among other
things, required him to provide underlying liability
insurance for all motor vehicles he owned, leased, or used.
(Docs. 78 at ¶ 4; 78-4 at 6). The above insurance
policies were in effect at the time of the April 2016
accident. Important here, Tremblay never added the Rogue to
any policy. Nor did he tell Safeco Illinois and Safeco
America about the leased vehicle until about two weeks after
the accident. (Doc. 78 at ¶ 6).
bring this three-count action under the Declaratory Judgment
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. (Doc. 59). In Counts I and II,
Safeco Illinois seeks a declaration that Tremblay's car
and motorcycle policies do not cover claims from the
accident, and thus it has no duty to defend or indemnify
Tremblay or any other defendant. In Count III, Safeco America
wants a declaration that (1) it has no duty to
defend/indemnify Julie or Seth Lippson because they are not
“insureds” under the umbrella policy; and (2) the
umbrella policy gives limited indemnity coverage only for
Tremblay's liability from the accident.
Defendants, except for Cody Morrison, did not defend against this
case after Plaintiffs properly served them with process. As
such, Plaintiffs moved for the Clerk's entry of default
as to Tremblay, Scott, Nunez, Julie Lippson, and Steven
Lippson. (Doc. 74). The Clerk then entered defaults
as to all under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(a). (Docs. 47, 61, 70, 77).
subsequently moved for summary judgment on all three counts,
which the Court granted in part and denied in part.
(Docs. 78; 94). As to Counts I and II, the
Court found the car and motorcycle policies issued to
Tremblay did not cover any claims arising from the accident.
(Doc. 94 at 4). And thus, Safeco Illinois had no
duty to defend, and in turn no duty to indemnify, Tremblay,
the Lippsons, or anyone else under the policies.
(Id.). As to Count III, the Court found it was not
ripe for review because Safeco America sought to define its
duty to indemnify before the state court imposed liability on
Tremblay and thus it dismissed the count. (Id. at
5-8). The Court also discussed the defaulted Defendants
and Plaintiffs responded by filing the instant motion.
(Id. at 8). Thereafter, Safeco America moved the
Court to reconsider its order, in part, because it did not
address Safeco America's duty to defend/indemnify the
Lippsons under the umbrella policy. (Doc. 96). The
Court granted Safeco America's motion to reconsider and
amended its order to declare that Safeco America had no duty
to defend and no duty to indemnify the Lippsons because they
are not “insureds” under the umbrella policy.
Against this procedural backdrop, the Court turns to the
motion at hand.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 establishes a two-step
procedure for obtaining default judgment. First, when a
defendant fails to plead or otherwise defend a lawsuit, the
clerk of the court must enter a clerk's default against
the defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a).
Second, after receiving the clerk's default, the court
can enter a default judgment provided the defendant is not an
infant or incompetent. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
55(b)(2). However, an entry of a clerk's default
does not per se warrant an entry of default
judgment. See Tyco Fire & Sec., LLC v.
Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx. 860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007)
(citation omitted). Rather, a court must ensure a sufficient
basis in the pleadings to enter judgment. See
id. This means the court may enter a default
judgment only if “the well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint, which are taken as true due to the default,
actually state a substantive cause of action and that there
is a substantive basis in the pleadings of the particular
relief sought.” Id.
on the well-pleaded allegations in the Amended Complaint, and
for the same reasons detailed in the Court's Second
Amended Order on Plaintiffs' summary judgment motion, the
Court finds that Safeco Illinois has established its
entitlement to a declaratory judgment that (1) the applicable
automobile and motorcycle policies issued to Tremblay do not
cover any claims arising from the April 10, 2016 accident;
and (2) Safeco Illinois has no duty to defend and no duty to
indemnify any Defendants, or anyone else, from or against any
claims arising from the accident. In addition, Safeco America
is entitled to a declaratory judgment that it has no duty to
defend and no duty to indemnify Julie or Seth Lippson under
the umbrella policy. No. declaratory judgment is warranted
for Count III as to Safeco America's duty to indemnify
Tremblay because the Court dismissed that claim without
prejudice. Thus, Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Default
Judgment is granted on Counts I and II as to Defendants
Tremblay, Scott, Nunez, Julie Lippson, and Steven Lippson and
Count III as to Defendants Julie and Steven Lippson
it is now
Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois and Safeco Insurance
Company of America's Motion for Default Judgment against
Defendants Joseph A. Tremblay, Romarrio Anthony Scott, Raquel
Maria Nunez, Julie Lippson, and Steven Lippson (Doc.
95) is GRANTED.
(1) The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter
judgment in favor of Plaintiff Safeco Insurance Company of
Illinois and against Defendants Tremblay, Scott, Nunez, Julie
Lippson, and Steven Lippson as to Counts I and II.
(2) The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter
judgment in favor of Plaintiff Safeco Insurance Company of
America and against Defendants Julie and ...