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M&M Bar Corp. v. Northfield Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 24, 2017



          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion of Defendant Northfield Insurance Company for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF DKT #15) and Plaintiff M&M's Cross-Motion (ECF DKT #16). Northfield (erroneously identified as “Northland” in Plaintiff's original Complaint) and Plaintiff, M&M Bar Corp. dba Mr. Peabody's Pub (“M&M”), entered into a liability insurance policy by which Northfield agreed to defend and indemnify M&M against claims for bodily injury. Northfield argues that all the claims in the underlying Complaint against M&M fall within policy exclusions and that Northfield is relieved of the obligation to indemnify and defend M&M. For the following reasons, Northfield's Motion is GRANTED.


         The relevant facts are uncontroverted. M&M entered into an insurance contract with Northfield Insurance. At all relevant times, M&M had a valid insurance contract with Northfield which provided that Northfield would defend and indemnify M&M in legal actions taken against M&M. The policy also listed a number of exclusions to coverage.

         On December 20, 2014, Mark Farrar, a patron of M&M's establishment, Mr. Peabody's Pub, was allegedly attacked by an individual named Sean Broz while on the premises. The pertinent allegations in Farrar's State Court Complaint against Broz and Mr. Peabody's are as follows:

1. Broz maliciously, unlawfully, and intentionally, recklessly, and/or negligently struck (Farrar) causing (Farrar) to suffer severe and permanent injuries.
2. Defendant did knowingly serve a noticeably intoxicated person, to wit: Defendant Sean Broz, intoxicating beverages in violation of O.R.C. § 4301.22 (hereinafter Dram Shop Claim).
3. At all times material herein, Defendant and/or its agents and/or employees negligently failed to provide security and safety for (Farrar) despite notice, both actual and constructive, of a risk of harm posed to (Farrar) by . . . Broz (hereinafter Negligent Security Claim).

         Northfield refused to defend M&M against these claims and argues that all the allegations against M&M are excluded from coverage under the policy. Northfield then removed its Declaratory Judgment action to the Northern District Court of Ohio on May 13, 2016, seeking a declaration of the rights and obligations between Northfield and M&M regarding the action filed by Farrar. Northfield filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and M&M filed a Brief in Opposition as well as a Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.


         A. Standard of Review

         After the pleadings are closed, but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In this jurisdiction, “[t]he standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings is the same as that for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) . . . We ‘construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all of the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle relief.'” Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publishing, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 389 (6th Cir.2007) (citations omitted). The court's decision “rests primarily upon the allegations of the complaint;” however, “exhibits attached to the complaint[] also may be taken into account.” Barany-Snyder v Weiner, 539 F.3d 327, 332 (6th Cir.2008) (citation omitted) (brackets in the original). Lastly, a Rule 12(c) motion “is granted when no material issue of fact exists and the party making the motion is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n, 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir.1991).

         In deciding a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). The court need not, however, accept conclusions of law as true:

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” As the Court held in [Bell Atlantic v.] Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955');">127 S.Ct. 1955 [(2007)], the pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” but it demands more than an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. Id. at 555. A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” ...

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