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Safeco Insurance Company of America v. Schweitzer

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

March 11, 2019

SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
AMANDA RUTH SCHWEITZER, JONAH SCHWEITZER, CHRISTY OWENS, C.A., A MINOR CHILD, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE.

         This is an insurance coverage declaratory judgment action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Before the Court is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Plaintiff Safeco Insurance Company of America (“Safeco”). (Doc. 22.) The motion is fully briefed. (Docs. 23, 24, 25.) For the reasons below, the motion is GRANTED in part as to Defendants C.A. and Christy Owens. (Doc. 22). Safeco is further ordered to show cause why it's case against Defendants Amanda Schweitzer and Jonah Schweitzer should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

         Background

          The relevant facts in this matter are undisputed. C.A. is a minor child who, through his mother Christy Owens (“Owens”), has a pending civil action for damages in state court against his middle school teacher, Amanda Schweitzer (“Amanda”), and Amanda's husband, Jonah Schweitzer (“Jonah”). C.A.'s civil action stems from the allegation that Amanda groomed and subsequently engaged in sexual intercourse with C.A. Amanda has been charged with crimes for her alleged sexual misconduct. Amanda and Jonah are insured under a Safeco homeowners' insurance policy. After Owens and C.A. made a demand on Safeco for payment of the policy proceeds, Safeco brought this declaratory judgment action naming as defendants: Amanda, Jonah, C.A., and Owens. In its motion for judgment on the pleadings, Safeco requests for judgment to be entered in its favor by declaring that there is no coverage under the policy for C.A.'s claims against Amanda and Jonah.

         To date, neither Amanda nor Jonah Schweitzer has appeared in this action. The Clerk of the Court previously entered defaults against Amanda and Jonah. (Docs. 14, 20.) However, Safeco has not submitted a motion for default judgment as to these defendants. Accordingly, the Court will address Safeco's motion for judgment on the pleadings as to Defendants C.A. and Christy Owens only.

         A. The Underlying State Civil Action

         Analysis of the arguments at issue requires review of the petition filed by C.A. in state court (the “Petition”). C.A. sues Amanda for negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count I) and false imprisonment (Count II) and sues Jonah for negligence (Count III). The factual allegations which are common to all counts are as follows:

6. C.A. was a student at North Middle School during the 2016-17 school year.
7. During that same year, [Amanda] was an adult female teacher employed by the Joplin School District (“JSD”) at North Middle School where she served as a teacher to C.A.
8. In early 2017, [Amanda] began grooming C.A. via social media and text message in violation of JSD policies.
9. On or about March 29, 2017, C.A. was late for the bus and subsequently missed school.
10. [Amanda] messaged C.A. when she noticed he was not at school.
11. [Amanda] subsequently drove to his home and picked him up without the consent of his mother.
12. While at her home, [Amanda] engaged in sexual intercourse with C.A.
13. As a result of the encounter, C.A. has sustained emotional injuries.
14. In addition, C.A. was forced to finish the semester off campus after the encounter with [Amanda] came to light. He subsequently transferred schools.

(Doc. 1-2 at 2.)

         Each count sets out additional relevant allegations. In Count I, for negligent infliction of emotional distress against Amanda, the Petition alleges that Amanda breached a duty to C.A. “by engaging in sexual intercourse with the minor[, C.A].” (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 18.) “By engaging in sex with C.A. at her home, it must have been foreseeable to [Amanda] that her conduct involved an unreasonable risk of causing distress to him.” (Id. at ¶ 20.) In Count II, for false imprisonment against Amanda, the Petition alleges that “[b]y falsely imprisoning C.A. at her home and subsequently engaging in sex with him there, it must have been foreseeable to [Amanda] that her conduct involved an unreasonable risk of causing distress to the minor.” (Id. at ¶ 26.)

         Count III is the sole count against Jonah. In Count III, the Petition alleges that Jonah “knew, or should have known, of the proclivities of his wife to ‘groom' young, male students and prey on them for sex.” (Id. at ¶ 30.) The Petition further alleges that despite this knowledge, Jonah was negligent for:

a. Failing to warn others of his wife's dangerous proclivities;
b. Failing to timely call the police;
c. Failing to protect C.A., while he was at the home [Jonah] shared with [Amanda], from the foreseeable criminal ...

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