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California Casualty General Insurance Company of Oregon v. Nelson

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

October 2, 2014

MATTHEW NELSON, et al., Defendants.


ORTRIE D. SMITH, Senior District Judge.

Pending is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. The motion (Doc. # 11) is granted as to all Defendants.


Plaintiff initiated this declaratory judgment action against

1. K.B., in her individual capacity and as the mother of and next friend for R.B,
2. R.B., and
3. Matthew Nelson.

The Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on August 12, 2014. By that time, Nelson had filed an Answer. Also on August 12, Plaintiff filed a Return of Service indicating K.B. had been served in both her individual and representative capacity on July 28. On August 28, an Answer was filed. This Answer appears as Document 15 on the Docket Sheet and is identified as the "Answer of Defendant K.B. to Plaintiff's Complaint for Decla[r]atory Judgment Answer to Complaint, on behalf of R.B." The document itself is entitled "Answer of Defendant K.B." but the first sentence of the Answer states it is filed by "Defendant R.B., a minor, by and through his biological Parent and Next Friend, K.B., and K.B., individually...." The Court construes this Answer to have been filed by both K.B. and R.B.

Nelson opposed the summary judgment motion, but K.B. and R.B. did not and the time for doing so expired. Thereafter, on September 8, 2014 Plaintiff filed Reply Suggestions in support of the Motion for Summary Judgment; since then, K.B. and R.B. still have not responded to the Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court deems the motion to be fully briefed and ripe for consideration.

This case involves a suit filed by K.B. (individually and in her capacity as R.B.'s mother) against Nelson in Jackson County Circuit Court. K.B.'s suit alleges Nelson was a third grade teacher in the Grain Valley School District ("the School District") during the 2008-09 school year and R.B. was one of Nelson's students. Petition, ¶¶ 25-26.[1] Nelson pleaded guilty in state court to child molestation, statutory sodomy and attempted child molestation; at least some of these charges arose from his conduct regarding R.B. K.B.'s suit asserts claims against Nelson, the School District, and various officials from the School District.

Nelson was insured under a homeowner's insurance policy issued by Plaintiff. Plaintiff has been defending Nelson under a reservation of rights, preserving its ability to contest its obligations to defend or indemnify him. In this suit, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that (1) it has no duty to defend Nelson in the state suit and (2) it has no duty to indemnify Nelson from any judgment that might be imposed in the state suit.

A. The Underlying State Court Suit

The Petition filed by K.B. in state court ("the Petition") remains the operative pleading in that lawsuit. As relevant to this suit, the General Allegations Regarding Facts Common to All Counts ("the Common Facts") aver the following facts:

26. Plaintiff R.B. was assigned to defendant Nelson's class for the 2008-2009 academic year.
27. At all times relevant herein, defendant Nelson was plaintiff R.B.'s teacher and held a position of authority and control over him, and owed him a fiduciary duty.
28. During the aforementioned school year, defendant Nelson inappropriately and unlawfully touched plaintiff R.B. in a sexual manner during school hours and on school property. During the aforementioned school year, Defendant Nelson inappropriately and unlawfully touched plaintiff on numerous occasions....
* * *
30. During the 2008-2009 school year, while plaintiff R.B. was a student at Prairie Branch, and assigned... to defendant Nelson's third grade class[, ] defendant Nelson began an ongoing, repeated and continuous practice of fondling, holding, kissing and otherwise inappropriately touching and assaulting plaintiff R.B., including hugging and touching his private area under and above his clothing and also requiring R.B. to sit and snuggle on the teacher's lap during class time. The aforementioned conduct also continued periodically through the 2009-2010 school year and 2010-2011 school years in Nelsons [sic] capacity as faculty representative of the student council and his role as R.B.'s "buddy teacher"....

Several other paragraphs in the Common Facts describe Nelson's conduct as constituting assaultive conduct generally or sexual misconduct specifically. Some representative examples include:

• Paragraph 29, which describes the effects of "defendant Nelson's ongoing practice of touching, rubbing, and fondling plaintiff R.B."
• Paragraph 31, which alleges R.B. was "subjected to [Nelson's] repeated and ongoing physical and sexual assaults."
• Paragraph 55, which describes changes in R.B. "[e]ver since defendant Nelson's repeated sexual assaults and ...

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