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Evanston Insurance Co. v. Certified Steel Stud Association

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

April 2, 2018

EVANSTON INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
CERTIFIED STEEL STUD ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael R. Barrett, Judge

         This matter is before the Court on: 1) Evanston's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 40) and the responsive memoranda thereto; and 2) ClarkDietrich's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 67) and the responsive memoranda thereto. In addition, Evanston sought leave to file a corrected reply brief in support of its motion for summary judgment, explaining that it inadvertently failed to attach referenced exhibits (Doc. 89); Evanston's Motion for Leave is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND/FACTS

         ClarkWestern Dietrich Building Systems, LLC (“ClarkDietrich”) produces steel framing products used in the construction industry. Certified Steel Stud Association (“CSSA”) is a trade association. Its founding members, all of whom were defendants in the underlying lawsuit - Ware Industries, Inc. (“Ware”), California Expanded Metal Products Company (“CEMCO”) and Telling Industries, LLC (“Telling”) - are competitors of ClarkDietrich.

         In September 2013, CSSA disseminated a publication within the steel framing industry asserting, in part, that ClarkDietrich's EQ-coated product line did not comply with the International Building Code, and that contractors who used ClarkDietrich's products could be liable. (Doc. 40-1, PageID 414-17).

         In response to the publication, ClarkDietrich sued CSSA, Ware, CEMCO, and Telling in Butler County, Ohio alleging: 1) violations of the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“ODTPA”) and unfair competition; 2) defamation; 3) common law disparagement; and 4) civil conspiracy. (Doc. 1-1).

         Before closing arguments, ClarkDietrich settled with Ware, CEMCO, and Telling. (Doc. 44-2, PageID 603). In addition, before the case was submitted to the jury, ClarkDietrich offered to dismiss all claims against CSSA, with prejudice and with no payment made by or on behalf of CSSA if CSSA would consent to a stipulated dismissal of ClarkDietrich's claims. (Doc. 40-2, PageID 452). That offer was rejected. (Id.). Following the denial of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Ohio Civ.R. 41(A)(2) - a motion CSSA opposed - the matter proceeded to closing arguments and was submitted to the jury. On November 18, 2005, the jury found in favor of ClarkDietrich and against CSSA on all of ClarkDietrich's claims, including civil conspiracy; ClarkDietrich was awarded $49.5 million in damages. (Doc. 1, ¶ 34).

         Evanston Insurance brings the instant action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 seeking a declaratory judgment against CSSA and ClarkDietrich. Evanston asks the Court to issue a declaratory judgment stating that Evanston has no defense or indemnity obligation under the Evanston-CSSA insurance policy (the “Policy”) due to CSSA's breach of the Policy. (Doc. 1, ¶ 59).

         Evanston and ClarkDietrich both move for summary judgment. (Docs. 40, 67). Because CSSA's claim is excluded under the Policy, the Court begins and ends its analysis here.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party has the burden of showing an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).

         Once the moving party has met its burden of production, the non-moving party cannot rest on his pleadings, but must present significant probative evidence in support of his complaint to defeat the motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). These standards upon which the court evaluates motions for summary judgment do not change simply because the parties present cross-motions. Taft Broad. Co. v. United States, 929 F.2d 240, 248 (6th Cir. 1991).

         III. ANALYSIS

         At the outset, the Court notes that while the parties engage in a choice of law analysis, such an analysis is unnecessary because application of either Ohio law or New York law leads to the same result. Mecanique C. N.C., ...


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