United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Mt. Hawley Insurance Company, Plaintiff,
McKinley, Inc., et al., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER
F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case involves a commercial general liability insurance policy
issued by Plaintiff Mt. Hawley Insurance Company (“Mt.
Hawley”) to Defendant McKinley, Inc.
(“McKinley”) that was effective from May 1, 2014
to May 1, 2015. Defendant Castleton Corner Owners Association
(“the Association”) is alleged to be an
“also insured” under the policy. Mt. Hawley seeks
a declaration that Michigan law applies to the policy and
that the policy does not provide coverage to either McKinley
or the Association in connection with a lawsuit filed in
Indiana. McKinley and the Association filed a Counter
Complaint asserting two counts: 1) Count I, seeking a
declaratory judgment in their favor (that Indiana law applies
and that there is coverage under the policy); and 2) Count
II, alleging that Mt. Hawley breached the insurance contract.
matter is currently before the Court on Defendants' Joint
Motion For Transfer of Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1404(a). The Court concludes that oral argument is not
necessary and shall decide the motion without a hearing.
Local Rule 7.1(f). The pending motion asks this Court to
transfer this action to the United States District Court for
the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. It
is undisputed that this case could have been filed in that
court. Defendants contend that the action should be
transferred there for the convenience of parties and
witnesses. For the reasons set forth below, the Court shall
GRANT the motion and transfer this case.
following facts are relevant for purposes of Defendants'
pending Motion to Transfer Venue.
Mt. Hawley, the insurance company, is an Illinois Corporation
with its principal place of business in Illinois. Defendants
contend, and Mt. Hawley does not dispute, that it was not
licensed to sell insurance in Michigan. The insurance policy
at issue in this case was placed through a surplus line
broker, R-T Specialty, of West Palm Beach, Florida. (ECF No.
insurance policy at issue is a commercial general liability
insurance policy issued by Mt. Hawley to McKinley, that was
effective from May 1, 2014 to May 1, 2015. McKinley is the
primary named insured on the policy. The Association is
alleged to be an “also insured” under the policy.
is a Michigan corporation with its principal place of
business in Michigan. During the relevant times (ie., when
the insurance policy was obtained and when the incident at
issue occurred), McKinley owned or managed residential and
commercial properties in several different states, including
Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Texas, Georgia,
Virginia, Arizona, and Ohio. (Affidavit of Tina Cox).
McKinley insured those properties, and the legal entities
owning those properties, on the Mt. Hawley insurance policy.
Association is an Indiana corporation with its principal
place of business in Indiana. The Association was formed in
order to provide for the maintenance and administration of
various pieces of real property located in Indianapolis,
Indiana. (Compl. at ¶ 12; Assoc.'s Answer at ¶
12; Defs.' Br.; Tina Cox Affidavit 2).
entity called Conroad Associates, L.P.
(“Conroad”) owns certain real property in
Indianapolis, Indiana (“the Conroad Property”).
Conroad is a member of the Association and the Conroad
Property constitutes a portion of the Association Property.
(Compl. at 13; Assoc.'s Answer at 13).
2008, the Association entered into a Real Estate Management
Agreement with McKinley. Under that agreement, McKinley
provided services for the common areas and lift station of
the Association's property in Indiana. (Tina Cox
Affidavit). McKinley had a property manager named Curtis
Pitts handling on-site duties at the Conroad Property. That
property manager provided services that included inspections
of the sewer lift and arranging for repairs and maintenance
of the lift station. Curtis Pitts is a resident of Indiana
and is no longer employed by McKinley. (Id.).
about February 14, 2015, there was an incident involving a
sewer lift station that serviced the Conroad Property, which
allegedly damaged the Conroad Property and its commercial
sued McKinley and the Association in Indiana state court,
seeking recovery for claimed damages (“the Conroad
Lawsuit'). The Conroad Lawsuit was filed in the Marion
County Superior Court.
then tendered the suit to Mt. Hawley, and also made a demand
to the Association to indemnify McKinley. Defendants state
that “[f]our years after McKinley tendered the suit to
Mt. Hawley - and approximately two months before the case
went to trial - Mt. Hawley issued a letter to McKinley and
[the Association] denying coverage to them for the Conroad
Lawsuit.” (Defs.' Br. at 7).
14, 2019, Mt. Hawley filed this action against Defendants
McKinley and the Association, based on diversity
jurisdiction. Mt. Hawley's Complaint for Declaratory
Judgment states that this is an action for declaratory
judgment “to determine and resolve questions of actual
controversy concerning the availability and scope of
insurance coverage, if any, for McKinley and [the
Association] under a commercial general liability insurance
policy issued by Mt, Hawley” to McKinley. (Compl. at
1-2). Mt. Hawley seeks a declaration that Michigan law
applies to the policy at issue and that its insurance policy
does not provide coverage to either McKinley or the
Association in connection with the lawsuit filed in Indiana.
coverage, Mt. Hawley's Complaint alleges that numerous
policy exclusions may apply such that there is no coverage
for the Conroad Lawsuit. The Complaint includes the
allegation that there is no coverage because a pollution
exclusion provision applies, but it also includes many
others. (See Compl. at 16-19).
with their Answer and Affirmative Defenses, McKinley and the
Association filed a Counter Complaint asserting two counts:
1) Count I, seeking a declaratory judgment in their favor
(that Indiana law applies and that there is coverage under