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Holden v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

April 29, 2013

JAMES HOLDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY CO., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

GREG WHITE, District Judge.

I. Procedural Background

On September 13, 2012, this matter was removed from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff James Holden ("Holden") seeks a declaratory judgment against Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm"). (ECF No. 1-1 at ¶8.) Specifically, Holden alleged that he is an insured of State Farm; that he has been joined as a third party defendant in an action in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas; that he is entitled to a defense and indemnity under a policy with State Farm; and, that State Farm has breached the policy by wrongfully refusing to defend him in the state court. Id. at ¶¶1-2, 4-6.

On December 19, 2012, Holden and State Farm filed cross motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 12 & 13.) The matter is now fully briefed.

II. Summary of Facts

There are few "facts" in this matter, as the case revolves around the allegations made against Holden in a state court action. The parties filed a Stipulation of Facts, and attached thereto documents represented to be true and accurate copies of the complaint, answer, counterclaim, third-party complaint, and Cheryl Tieche's answers to interrogatories filed in the underlying state court action. (ECF No. 11.) The parties further attached what they represent to be true and accurate copies of homeowner and rental dwelling policies issued to Holden and his wife by State Farm. Id.

The state action stems from a landlord-tenant relationship. State court plaintiffs Gary Koryta and International Industrial Techniques, Inc. ("IIT") are the owners of a building located at 704 Broadway Avenue, Bedford, Ohio. (ECF No. 11-1 at ¶14.) Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff Cheryl Tieche leased the property to operate a business, Lauray's Studio of Dance, previously owned by Laura Clegg who had passed away. Id. at ¶¶13-24. Tieche allegedly failed to pay rent for nine months and breached the lease agreement in other respects. Id. at ¶¶ 26-31. Koryta and IIT assert multiple claims against Tieche and others for breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, fraud, and tortious interference with a business relationship. In addition to filing an answer and counterclaims against Kortya and IIT, Tieche filed a third-party complaint against the City of Garfield Heights and four individuals, including Holden. (ECF No. 11-2 at 17-28.) With respect to Holden, the third-party complaint alleges as follows:

67. Koryta subsequently made contact and continued contact with Third Party Defendants, Jenni Hankey and James Lee Holden. Hankey was allegedly going to take over Lauray's Studio of Dance.
68. Under information and belief, Koryta and Hankey have formed a personal relationship and business relationship. Koryta has repeatedly attempted to gain access to Tieche's proprietary customer lists in an effort to benefit himself and Hankey.
69. Koryta, Hankey and Holden all went through the premises, accessed the files and computer of Tieche, and otherwise examined the property belonging to Tieche.
70. At this same time Koryta and Hankey, with the assistance of Holden began to disseminate false and incorrect information regarding the status of Lauray's Studio of Dance as being either, closed or taken over by Hankey.
71. Also, at this same time, Hankey was operating under an unregistered entity known as Pulse Studio of Dance.
72. The actions of Koryta, Hankey and Holden constitute a violation of Tieche's privacy and constitutional rights, a tortuous [sic] interference, with the contractual relationships Tieche maintains with her clients, and civil conspiracy.
73. Koryta, Hankey and Holden engaged in a pattern of tortuous [sic] interference with business relationships that Tieche maintained. Hankey and Holden knew of the business relationships or contracts and through intentional and improper actions taken to [sic] prevented a contract formation, or procured a contractual breach, or terminated a business relationship without privilege to do so and thereby causing damages Tieche.
74. Koryta, Hankey and Holden engaged in a civil conspiracy by their malicious actions directed toward Tieche, resulting in damages.
75. Koryta, Hankey and Holden intentionally and deliberately inflicted emotional distress on Tieche by violating her rights, or by abusing the lawful process by unlawful purpose, or by violating Tieche's constitutional rights, or by falsely claiming Tieche had committed illegal acts or by conspiring against Tieche, or by interfering with Tieche's civil rights by threats, coercion, or intimidation, or knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of their conduct.
76. Koryta, Hankey and Holden's conduct was extreme and outrageous, beyond all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.
77. The actions of Koryta, Hankey and Holden were the cause of Tieche's distress.
78. The emotional distress sustained by Tieche was severe and of a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure.
79. As a result of Koryta, Hankey and Holden's extreme and outrageous conduct, Tieche was, is, and, with a high degree of likelihood, will continue to be emotionally distressed due to the intentional exclusion.
80. As a result of Koryta, Hankey and Holden's extreme and outrageous conduct, Tieche has suffered and will continue to suffer mental pain and anguish, severe ...

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