Anthony Woods, et al. Appellants
Progressive Direct Insurance Company Appellee
Court Nos. 2014 CV 0743 2015 CV 0606
A. Zannieri, for appellants.
Christopher J. Ankuda and Paul R. Morway, for appellee.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT
1} This consolidated appeal is from two judgments of
the Erie County Court of Common Pleas: in case No. E-17-021
(No. 2014 CV 0743), the trial court's denial of
appellants' motion for relief from judgment as to the
default judgment granted on appellee Progressive Direct
Insurance Company's declaratory judgment claims and
request to have admissions deemed admitted; and in case No.
E-17-022 (2015 CV 0606), the trial court's August 14,
2017 judgment granting appellee's motion for summary
judgment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
2} This case involves successive lawsuits with
identical parties and relating to the question of automobile
insurance coverage following the alleged insured, Ryan
Williams' April 23, 2012 accident in a rental vehicle.
For ease of discussion, we will separately, to the extent
practicable, set forth the procedural history of the cases.
3} This case commenced on November 3, 2014, with
appellants Anthony Woods, Stephanie Woods, and Ryan Williams
filing a complaint against Progressive alleging breach of
contract and bad faith in the denial of coverage. On January
2, 2015, Progressive filed an answer and counterclaim for
declaratory judgment. In its counterclaim, Progressive asked
the court to confirm that it had no duty to either defend or
indemnify appellants and that it acted reasonably in handling
and evaluating the issue of coverage.
4} On February 6, 2015, Progressive served its
discovery requests, including requests for admissions, to
appellants. On March 25, 2015, appellants filed a notice of
voluntary dismissal, without prejudice, of all the claims
against Progressive. Appellants did not file an answer to
5} On April 9, 2015, Progressive filed a motion for
default judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 55. Progressive argued
that appellants failed to answer or otherwise respond to
their declaratory judgment counterclaim. On the same day,
Progressive filed a motion to deem the requests for
admissions served upon appellants as admitted due to their
failure to respond within 28 days under Civ.R. 36.
6} In response to the motion for default judgment,
appellants argued that because they dismissed their claims,
the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. Appellants
further argued that they did not default on the counterclaim
because they had raised the same issues in their initial
complaint (a request for a declaration of their rights under
the contract). Appellants made similar arguments as to the
requests for admissions.
7} On September 17, 2015, the trial court denied
Progressive's motions finding that appellants'
dismissal of the action ended the court's jurisdiction
over the matter. Progressive appealed the ruling and on
appeal this court reversed finding that a properly asserted
counterclaim was not extinguished by a plaintiffs voluntary
dismissal of its claims. See Woods v. Progressive Direct
Ins. Co., 2016-Ohio-8530, 79 N.E.3d 1248 (6th
Dist) ("Woods I ").
8} On remand, the trial court granted
Progressive's motions on March 15, 2017. Appellants filed
a motion for relief from judgment which was denied.
Appellants appealed the judgments. On May 24, 2017, we
remanded the matter for the trial court to enter a final and
appealable order of its judgment granting default judgment to
Progressive. Specifically, we instructed the court, as
requested by Progressive, to declare the rights and
obligations of the parties under the insurance policy. The
court then filed its amended judgment entry on August 2,
9} Appellants refiled their voluntarily dismissed
claims on September 25, 2015. On January 19, 2017,
Progressive filed its motion for summary judgment based upon
res judicata specifically, collateral estoppel. Appellants
opposed the motion. On March 15, 2017, the court granted the
motion, without written analysis. Appellants then commenced
the instant appeal. As in case No. E-17-021, we remanded the
matter for the court to declare the rights and obligations of
the parties due to the nature of the prior declaratory
judgment action. The court filed its amended judgment entry
on August 14, 2017.
10} Appellants now raise five assignments of error
for our review:
Assignment of Error Number 1: The trial court should have
granted relief from judgment in Case CV 0743.
Assignment of Error Number 2: The trial court abused its
discretion when it refused to grant relief from the judgment
deeming the requests for admissions admitted, even though the
admissions were filed late.
Assignment of Error Number : In its latest entry filed on
August 2, 2017, the trial court granted a default judgment to
Progressive. That default judgment should have never been
granted because there was no default. In case No. CV 0606, an