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Richard Haught v. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co.

September 30, 2011

RICHARD HAUGHT APPELLANT
v.
U.S. FIDELITY & GUARANTY CO., ET AL. APPELLEES



APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CV 2008 10 7282

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Belfance, Presiding Judge.

Cite as

Haught v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co.,

ss:

DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

{¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant Richard S. Haught appeals from the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse.

I.

{¶2} Mr. Haught was the coach of Brownlee's Arsenal, an amateur youth baseball team. In July 2005, Mr. Haught was with the team at a baseball tournament at Springfield High School in Akron. Robert Abrams was operating a concession stand at the tournament on behalf of the Springfield Booster Club. While Mr. Haught was coaching a game, a dispute arose over parking fees being charged by the Springfield Booster club. After the game, and while Mr. Haught was conducting a team meeting, the dispute became physical and a member of Mr. Haught's team ran toward the melee. Mr. Haught left the team meeting in an attempt to diffuse or disperse the fight. During the argument, Mr. Abrams was fatally injured.

{¶3} In connection with Mr. Abrams' death, Mr. Haught was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault; Mr. Haught was ultimately found guilty of assaulting Mr. Abrams. Amy Abrams, as the executrix of the estate of Mr. Abrams, filed a wrongful death action against multiple parties including Mr. Haught. Mr. Haught in turn filed this action seeking declaratory judgments that Defendant-Appellee United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company ("U.S. Fidelity"), St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company ("St. Paul"), and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company ("Mutual of Omaha") owed Mr. Haught a defense with respect to the incident leading to Mr. Abrams' death and indemnification with respect to the same incident. In addition, Mr. Haught asserted that U.S. Fidelity breached a duty of good faith and fair dealing in failing to defend him in the wrongful death action and by denying him coverage. Mr. Haught filed a Civ.R. 41(A)(1) notice of dismissal of Mutual of Omaha without prejudice. Nonetheless, when Mr. Haught amended his complaint to add Ms. Abrams as a necessary party, he included a claim against Mutual of Omaha.

{¶4} U.S. Fidelity and St. Paul both moved for summary judgment and opposed Mr. Haught's motion for partial summary judgment. Mr. Haught likewise responded in opposition to U.S. Fidelity's and St. Paul's motion. Ms. Abrams also filed responses to the various summary judgment motions. Ultimately, the trial court concluded that "there is no coverage under the policies at issue here." Thus, it granted summary judgment to U.S. Fidelity and St. Paul on Mr. Haught's amended complaint for declaratory judgment and denied Mr. Haught's motion for partial summary judgment. Mr. Haught appealed, and this Court dismissed the appeal as the claim against Mutual of Omaha remained outstanding and the trial court's entry failed to use Civ.R. 54(B) language. Mr. Haught, thereafter, dismissed his claim against Mutual of Omaha, and the trial court issued another entry reiterating its summary judgment ruling and including Civ.R. 54(B) language. Mr. Haught appealed the judgment as to both U.S. Fidelity and St. Paul, but the parties have agreed to dismiss the appeal as to St. Paul. Mr. Haught thus appeals the judgment as to U.S. Fidelity, raising a single assignment of error for our review.

II. ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

"The trial court committed reversible error in granting Summary Judgment in favor of the Appellees."

{¶5} Mr. Haught asserts that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to U.S. Fidelity as he is entitled to coverage under the policy, that the incident that led to Mr. Abrams' death occurred within the scope of the policy, and that no exclusions are applicable.

{¶6} We review an award of summary judgment de novo. Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co. (1996), 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105. "Pursuant to Civ.R. 56(C), summary judgment is appropriately rendered when '(1) [n]o genuine issue as to any material fact remains to be litigated; (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) it appears from the evidence that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and viewing such evidence most strongly in favor of the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, that conclusion is adverse to that party.'" Turner v. Turner (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 337, 339-340, quoting Temple v. Wean United, Inc. (1977), 50 Ohio St.2d 317, 327.

{ΒΆ7} On a motion for summary judgment, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issues of material fact exist. Dresher v. Burt (1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 292. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to provide evidence ...


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