Knight Specialty Insurance recently filed a federal lawsuit in hopes to avoid a wrongful death suit that was filed against it by the estate of a former truck driver.
To avoid a wrongful death lawsuit over a fatal crash that happened back on April 24, 2019, Knight Specialty Insurance recently decided to file a suit of its own in a Florida federal court. The 2019 suit was filed by the estate of Ronnie Brown, one of the truckers who died in the crash. The wrongful death suit was seeking “damages from Jacksonville Transportation after a pair of its team drivers were killed in a crash…However, the insurance company claims in its federal lawsuit that its policy does not cover injuries to employees of the trucking company.”
What happened to cause the fatal accident, though? Well, on April 24, 2019, Brown and Martin Allen Cain were driving in a 2012 Volvo tractor on U.S. 287 near Wichita Falls, Texas when it collided with another tractor-trailer. Both men were killed. A year later, Brown’s estate filed a wrongful death suit in a Marion County, Florida court seeking damages. Jacksonville Transportation and Cain and Christopher Hampton, the owners of the truck, were named as defendants. According to the suit, Cain was driving the other truck at the time of the accident.
However, Knight Specialty pushed back against the lawsuit, arguing its “policy with Jacksonville Transportation exempts it from Brown’s lawsuit.” The company added the ‘Exclusions’ section of the policy “states that it does not apply to bodily injury of an employee of Jacksonville Transportation arising out of and in the course of their employment.” As a result, Knight Specialty is trying to get the federal court to “declare that it is not required to defend or indemnify Jacksonville Transportation for any claims coming from the deaths of Brown or Cain due to the fact they were employees of the insured and not the insured party themselves.”
Jacksonville Transportation chimed in and noted the “insurance company’s argument is predicated on the notion that Brown was an employee at the time of his death.” The company has asked the federal court to push pause on the case “while important issues are being addressed in Florida state court.” Jacksonville Transportation said:
“Resolution of this highly factual issue will require substantial evidence into the nature of (Jacksonville Transportation’s) relationship with Brown and Cain, which discovery is already ongoing in the (wrongful death lawsuit) and has been for many months…In other words, the fact finder in the (wrongful death lawsuit) must necessarily resolve the same factual issue that (Knight Specialty) asks this court to resolve as part of its requested declaration.”
DEFENDANT JACKSONVILLE TRANSPORTATION, INC.’S MOTION TO DISMISS DECLARATORY ACTION COMPLAINT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO STAY THIS ACTION PENDING THE OUTCOME OF THE UNDERLYING TORT ACTION, AND TO ADD CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON AS A PARTY DEFENDANT