United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Teena Ward, individually and as administrator for deceased Charles W. Ward, Plaintiff
Auto-Owners Insurance Company, Defendant
G. CARR SR. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
an insurance dispute. Plaintiff Teena Ward (Teena) raises
bad-faith and breach of contract claims against defendant
Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners).
insured the truck Teena's husband, Charles Ward (Charles)
drove for work. Charles died after a July 18, 2017,
on-the-job collision that another driver, Lisa Price,
allegedly caused. Believing Price had insufficient insurance
coverage to compensate her losses, Teena filed a claim with
Auto-Owners for underinsured motorist benefits. While
processing the claim, Auto-Owners agreed to advance Teena
$100, 000, which was the limit on Price's insurance
policy, in exchange for an assignment of Teena's rights
to pursue further relief against Price. Teena alleges,
however, that Auto-Owners repeatedly delayed processing her
claim and, eventually, offered her a “low-ball”
sum to resolve it.
is Auto-Owners's motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(7) and 19. (Doc. 5). Auto-Owners contends
that Price is a necessary and indispensable party to this
action, and, because joining Price would destroy
jurisdiction, I must dismiss the case.
reasons that follow, I deny the motion without prejudice.
Ward was a truck driver for Brookside Trucking, Inc.
(Brookside), and Auto-Owners insured the truck he drove for
work. (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 2). The policy covering the truck
included $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist
July 18, 2017, fatal crash occurred when Price, allegedly
negligently, drove her car away from a stop sign and into
Charles's path. (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 1).
about July 26, 2017, Teena, as administrator of Charles's
estate, filed a claim with Auto-Owners for underinsured
motorist benefits because she thought Price had insufficient
insurance coverage to pay the costs of the crash. (Doc. 1 at
2, ¶ 6). Just over two weeks later, Auto-Owners
confirmed that Price was underinsured. (Id. at 2,
¶ 7). In the meantime, Price's insurer, Erie
Insurance Company (Erie), offered Teena $100, 000 - the limit
on Price's policy - “to resolve her liability for
the subject collision.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 8).
Auto-Owners policy's underinsured motorist provisions
provide coverage where b. A tentative settlement has been
made between an insured and the insurer of the underinsured
motor vehicle and [Auto-Owners]:
(1) [Has] been given prompt written notice of such
(2) Advance[s] payment to the insured in an amount equal to
the tentative settlement within 30 days after receipt of
(Doc. 5-2 at 44).
Owners memorialized its payment of $100, 000 Teena for her
assignment of her right to recover against Price in a ...