United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
POLSTER CHAPPELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Hartford Fire Insurance Company's
Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendant Delacruz
Drywall Plastering & Stucco, Inc. (Doc. 22). Delacruz
failed to respond. Also here is Defendant Beazer Homes,
LLC's Motion to Dismiss and Hartford's response in
opposition. (Docs. 27; 32). These matters are ripe for
review. But the case is not, so the Court dismisses without
an insurance coverage conflict. Years ago, Hartford issued
insurance policies to Delacruz. (Doc. 22 at 7). Beazer (a
general contractor) hired Delacruz (a subcontractor) to do
stucco work at new housing developments. (Doc. 22 at 10). The
subsequent homeowners brought suits against Beazer for
construction defects related to the stucco. (Doc. 22 at 10).
Beazer paid for repairs. (Doc. 22 at 10). Then, Beazer sued
Delacruz in state court for its work (the “Underlying
Suits”). (Doc. 22 at 10-11). In turn, Delacruz tendered
the Underlying Suits to Hartford who is defending under a
reservation of rights. (Doc. 22 at 11). Some nonbinding
arbitration awards issued in the Underlying Suits, but none
are resolved or even set for trial. (Docs. 22 at 11-12, 15;
27 at 2).
brought this case under the Declaratory Judgment Act, seeking
declarations on its duty to indemnify Delacruz and Beazer in
the Underlying Suits. (Doc. 1 at 1, 9-11). Hartford moves for
default judgment against Delacruz, arguing that this case is
ripe for review. (Doc. 22 at 13-19). Conversely, Beazer moves
to dismiss, saying the case is unripe. (Doc. 27 at 4).
permits federal courts in “a case of actual
controversy” to “declare the rights and other
legal relations of any interested party seeking such
declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be
sought.” 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a). Courts have no duty
to declare those rights. Ameritas Variable Life Ins. v.
Roach, 411 F.3d 1328, 1330 (11th Cir. 2005). And a
“case of actual controversy” referenced in the
Act refers to justiciable cases under Article III.
MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118,
ripeness doctrine “protects federal courts from
engaging in speculation or wasting their resources through
the review of potential or abstract disputes.”
Digital Properties, Inc. v. City of Plantation, 121
F.3d 586, 589 (11th Cir. 1997). Further, it “seeks to
avoid entangling courts in the hazards of premature
adjudication.” Id. (citation omitted).
Ultimately, ripeness “goes to whether the district
court ha[s] subject matter jurisdiction to hear the
case.” Id. at 591 (citation omitted). To
determine ripeness, courts look at two factors: (1)
“the fitness of the issues for judicial decision”
and (2) “the hardship to the parties of withholding
court consideration.” Carver Middle Sch.
Gay-Straight All. v. Sch. Bd. of Lake Cty., Fla., 842
F.3d 1324, 1329 (11th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).
the Court held that a similar declaratory judgment
action-filed by a different insurance company over the same
Underlying Suits-was not ripe. Mid-Continent Cas. Co. v.
Delacruz Drywall Plastering & Stucco, Inc.
(“MCC I”), 341 F.Supp.3d 1289, 1292
(M.D. Fla. 2018). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed.
Mid-Continent Cas. Co. v. Delacruz Drywall Plastering
& Stucco, Inc. (“MCC II”), 766
Fed.Appx. 768, 772 (11th Cir. 2019). Hartford argues this
case is different because it seeks “more limited
declarations” on its “potential coverage
obligations” and prudential considerations warrant
entering judgment. (Doc. 22 at 1-2). The Court disagrees.
this Court, many district courts routinely hold “an
insurer's duty to indemnify is not ripe for adjudication
unless and until the insured or putative insured has been
held liable in the underlying action.” E.g.,
MCC I, 341 F.Supp.3d at 1292 (citation omitted)
(collecting cases). The Eleventh Circuit agreed that an
insurer's duty to indemnify is not ripe “until the
underlying lawsuit is resolved.” MCC II, 766
Fed.Appx. at 770.
Hartford seeks several specific declarations on its rights
and obligations to Delacruz and Beazer over the claims
arising from the construction defects. Yet these declarations
are unripe for consideration just like the declarations in
Delacruz, Hartford argues this case differs from MCC
II because Hartford is seeking declarations on the
“extent of its coverage obligations, ” not its
“ultimate duty to indemnify.” (Doc. 22 at 16).
This is a curious statement considering the requested relief:
“Enter judgment declaring whether and to what extent
Hartford has an obligation to indemnify Delacruz.”
(Doc. 1 at 11). Wordplay aside, Hartford is mistaken. Those
“coverage obligations” for which it seeks
clarification are its duty to indemnify, albeit in specific
terms. (Docs. 1 at 9-11; 22 at 19 (seeking several
declarations on the duty to indemnify Delacruz)). And the
Underlying Suits are still unresolved. While Hartford noted
arbitrations occurred, those were nonbinding and have not
established Delacruz's liability. Nor does Hartford
identify any real hardship that would result from withholding
a decision. To the extent Hartford even tries to make that
showing, it says a decision could “bring the parties
closer to settlement” in state court. (Doc. 22 at 18).
That is not a hardship. So like MCC II, this case is
unripe for Delacruz. 766 Fed.Appx. at 770 (Insurer's
“duty to indemnify Delacruz is not ripe for
adjudication until the underlying lawsuit is
Beazer, Hartford's requested declaration on its duty to
indemnify suffers the same fate. Beazer is on slightly
different footing than Delacruz because Beazer already
incurred the costs of repairing the homes. (Doc. 32 at 4).
And Hartford contends Beazer sought or will seek
indemnification as an additional insured under Delacruz's
insurance policy with Hartford. (Doc. 1 at 2). Regardless, the
principle reaffirmed in MCC II applies with equal
force because indemnification hinges on liability in the
Underlying Suits. Beazer sued Delacruz, not Hartford. And if
Beazer wins, there might be no need to determine whether it
is an additional insured. Hartford also failed to identify
any hardship in the absence of this ...