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Gray v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Mississippi

October 23, 2014

WILLIAM GRAY, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF WILLIAM T. GRAY
v.
ARCH SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/30/2013.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE: HON. THOMAS J. GARDNER, III.

FOR APPELLANT: JASON D. HERRING, MICHAEL S. CHAPMAN.

FOR APPELLEE: EVERETT WHITE, WILLIAM N. REED, MARLENA P. PICKERING, MONICA A. FROIS.

BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND COLEMAN, JJ. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, AND KING, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 504

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - INSURANCE

COLEMAN, JUSTICE.

¶1. The Monroe County Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of Arch Specialty Insurance Company, finding that Arch's general liability policy did not provide coverage for the claims asserted by the wrongful death beneficiaries of William Gray. The Grays' claims of negligent hiring, negligent training, and failure to implement appropriate triage protocols arose from the performance of or failure to perform medical services, which the general liability policy excludes. The Grays appealed. We affirm.

Factual Background

¶2. William Gray was in a car wreck on April 8, 2006, and paramedics employed by Emergystat, Inc. and Southland Health Services, Inc. responded. William died shortly thereafter. On April 7, 2009, William's wrongful death beneficiaries (the Grays) filed suit against Emergystat, Southland, and various employees. The Grays claimed that William was alive when the paramedics arrived and that he " remained alive for one hour before properly being attended, treated[,] and cared for[.]" They alleged that Emergystat and Southland were negligent in rendering medical care to William, resulting in his death. They also alleged negligent hiring, negligent training, and failure to implement appropriate triage protocols. The defendants did not answer the complaint, and the Grays filed an entry of default.

¶3. Two days before filing the entry of default, the Grays' attorney notified Arch Specialty Insurance Company of the suit and advised that a policy Arch had issued to Emergystat and Southland could be implicated. Arch investigated the claim and informed Emergystat and Southland that the policy did not provide coverage. In December 2009, the trial court entered a default judgment against Emergystat and Southland for $1,251,822. Six months later, the Grays filed a writ of garnishment against Arch in an attempt to collect under the insurance policy. Arch denied that the Grays were entitled to collect and filed a motion for summary judgment. The circuit court granted Arch's motion, finding that the policy did not provide coverage. The Grays appealed.

Discussion

¶4. The issue on appeal is whether the Arch general liability policy, issued to Emergystat and Southland, covers the Grays' claims of negligent hiring, negligent training, and failure to implement appropriate triage protocols. " The proper construction of an insurance contract provision is a question of law[,] which we review de novo." Farmland Mut. Ins. Co. v. Scruggs, 886 So.2d 714, 717 (¶ 10) (Miss. 2004) (citation omitted). The Court also reviews a trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo. S. Healthcare Servs., Inc. v. Lloyd's of London, 110 So.3d 735, 743 (¶ 17) (Miss. 2013). Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party proves " there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." Miss. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

I. The Arch Insurance Policies

¶5. Arch issued an umbrella policy to Emergystat and Southland for the period of November 9, 2002, to December 1, 2007. The umbrella policy provided two types of coverage: professional liability and general liability. The Professional Liability Policy was a " claims-made" policy, which afforded coverage for damages arising from " medical professional ...


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