No. CV 08-5006839
October 5, 2010
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO INTERVENE (#177)
In this case, Safeco Insurance Group, the issuer of a homeowners policy to the defendant, Stephen Judge, seeks to intervene in this action for the purpose of propounding interrogatories to the jury related to whether or not the insurance company is obligated to provide indemnification to the defendant.
In the underlying action, the plaintiff, Allyn Wright, asserts that he was injured in a racially motivated workplace assault. With regard to the defendant, Stephen Judge, the plaintiff claims that in count one, that he was assaulted, count two, that he was battered, in count five, that there was an intentional infliction of emotional distress, count eight, there was a negligent infliction of emotional distress and in count eleven, there was a claim of false imprisonment. At the commencement of the litigation, Safeco Insurance Group indicated to the defendant, Stephen Judge, that it would be providing a defense to the action, but under the reservation of rights under the homeowners policy. In addition to the claims put forward by the plaintiff against Stephen Judge, one of the co-defendants, Scott Sexton, has filed a cross claim against Mr. Judge, asserting that Mr. Judge should indemnify him for any liabilities he might have because Mr. Judge's negligence was active while Mr. Sexton's conduct was passive.
Safeco now seeks to intervene directly into the action for the limited purpose of propounding interrogatories to the jury. The interrogatories would address factual issues upon which its coverage issues are founded. Safeco proposes jury interrogatories with reference to specific definitions contained in the policy of insurance: "bodily injuries," "occurrence" or "business" engaged in by the defendant, Stephen Judge. Safeco also seeks to propound interrogatories as to whether or not the injuries were "expected or intended by the defendant, Stephen Judge", and whether the injuries alleged by the plaintiff "arise out of physical or mental abuse by the defendant, Stephen Judge."
Safeco believes that if the court allows it to intervene in this case "the ambiguity of a general verdict may be avoided." The intervenor further posits that answers to such interrogatories would establish the indemnification obligations of the insurer and would, therefore, economically resolve these issues without additional litigation. Safeco claims that its intervention is authorized under § 52-102 of the General Statutes which, "upon motion made by . . . non-party to a civil action, . . . the non-party so moving, as the case may be, (1) may be made a party by the court if that person has or claims an interest in the controversy or any part thereof, adverse to the plaintiff . . ." Section 52-107 of the General Statutes provides further authority for the court to order that other parties be brought in to pending actions.
This court has reviewed the cases cited by the intervening party in support of this intervention as well as the cases cited by the defendant, Stephen Judge, who opposes the intervention in this action. The court is of the opinion that this motion should not be granted for several reasons. The gravamen of the underlying case, is whether or not the defendant, Stephen Judge, is liable either on the claims of direct injury asserted by the plaintiff, or on the cross-claims made by the co-defendant, Sexton. Neither of these sets of claims require for their resolution a determination of the coverage issues raised by Safeco. Further, allowing Safeco to intervene in this action for the propounding of jury interrogatories would directly insert into this action issues of insurance which are generally not admissible evidence in a tort case. Safeco seeks to insert into this tort action issues of insurance contract interpretation. The court does not believe that Safeco is a necessary party to this action. Further, the court finds that allowing Safeco to interpose interrogatories would potentially create complications both for the plaintiff Wright and counsel for its insured, Stephen Judge. The court finds the reasoning in Chenkus v. Dickson, No. 282007 1990 Ct.Sup. 2109 (September 7, 1990) (Berdon, J.) persuasive.
The motion to intervene is denied.