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National Wrecker, Inc. v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Maine

October 24, 2019

NATIONAL WRECKER, INC.
v.
PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

          Argued: September 26, 2019

          William J. Gallitto, III, Esq. (orally), Bergen & Parkinson, LLC, Saco, for appellant National Wrecker, Inc.

          James D. Poliquin, Esq. (orally), Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, LLC, Portland, for appellee Progressive Casualty Insurance Company

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] National Wrecker, Inc., ("NWI") appeals from an order entered in the Superior Court (York County, O'Neil, /.) granting Progressive Casualty Insurance Company's ("Progressive") motion for summary judgment, and denying NWI's. Central to this appeal is the question of whether a judgment obtained by NWI against Fred Muluya d/b/a Anakiya Trucking ("Muluya"), Progressive's insured, is covered by Muluya's automobile insurance contract. We agree with the Superior Court that it is not covered by the policy, and we therefore affirm the judgment in favor of Progressive.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts are set forth in the joint stipulation of fact, submitted to the Superior Court in support of the parties' respective motions for summary judgment. We review the Superior Court's entry of summary judgment de novo as a matter of law, in light of the stipulated facts. Wallace v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2017 ME 141, ¶ 8, 166 A.3d 989.

         A. The Accident

         [¶3] Muluya[1] owned a large box truck insured by a Commercial Auto Insurance Policy through Progressive, the defendant in this matter. In the early morning of December 20, 2016, the Eliot Police Department contacted NWI to respond to an accident involving Muluya's truck, which had gone off the road and crashed into a ditch on property owned by a third party. The truck had suffered substantial damage and diesel fuel was leaking from the punctured fuel tank. In an effort to contain the leaked fuel and prevent further leakage, the NWI employees pumped the remaining diesel from the truck and laid absorbent pads over the spilled fuel. NWI also removed debris from the scene. Two NWI wreckers removed the truck from the third party's property to the roadway and towed it to an NWI facility in Eliot.[2] NWI sent Muluya an invoice detailing these services and requesting payment of $7, 440 for the services.

         [¶4] In February 2017, NWI filed a complaint against Muluya in Superior Court, seeking "payment of its invoice for recovery and remediation services; assisting of [Muluya] in the clean-up of [the] accident; towing fees; and storage fees." In June 2017, the Superior Court (York County, Douglas, J.) entered judgment in favor of NWI (the "underlying judgment") and awarded NWI $26, 540 in total damages for the services listed on the invoice and the subsequent storage fees for Muluya's truck.[3]

         B. The Policy

         [¶5] Muluya carried a Commercial Auto Insurance Policy with Progressive at all times relevant to this case. The truck was listed on the "Auto Coverage Schedule" of the policy. The policy provides $5, 000 in compulsory property damage liability coverage, and $100, 000 in optional property damage coverage.

         [¶6] Liability coverage is provided in Part I of the policy, which ...


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