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State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Prescott

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 24, 2019

STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
JOAN PRESCOTT, dba ALOHA HAPPY PLACE, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JILL A. OTAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff State Farm's Motion for Summary Judgment on its declaratory relief action, seeking a judgment that State Farm is not required to defend its insured Defendant Joan Prescott against a complaint brought against her. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         State Farm insures Joan Prescott's bed and breakfast business with a business liability policy (the “Policy”). The Policy requires State Farm to indemnify Prescott for certain specified liabilities, and to defend Prescott against lawsuits that may give rise to those covered liabilities. ECF No. 17-10. In May of 2017, Ronald Ober (“Ober”) sued Prescott in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit of the State of Hawai'i (the “Underlying Suit”). ECF No. 17-7. Prescott sought State Farm's defense of the Underlying Suit, and it appears State Farm began defending the suit with a reservation of rights. See ECF No. 17-1 at 10. State Farm then brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the Policy does not require State Farm to defend Prescott in the Underlying Suit.

         A. The Underlying Suit

         The Underlying Suit alleges the following: (1) that Prescott began using Ober's trade name of “Volcano Inn” for her competing bed and breakfast despite knowing that Ober was already using the name, see ECF No. 17-7 at ¶¶ 1-16; (2) that in 2009, Ober received a judgment against Prescott for using the “Volcano Inn” name, and that the judgment barred Prescott's continued use of the name, see ECF No. 17-7 at ¶¶ 17-18; (3) that Prescott entered into a settlement agreement with Ober in 2012, in which Prescott stated that she no longer used the name “Volcano Inn” in any business capacity, see ECF No. 17-7 at ¶ 22; and (4) that despite the state court judgment and settlement agreement, since at least 2012 to the present, Prescott has continued to use the name “Volcano Inn” in her internet listings, advertising, and domain name, see ECF No. 17-7 at ¶¶ 23-29.

         The Underlying Suit asserts seven causes of action, as described below.

         i. Count I-Infringement, Conversion and Theft of Trade Name

         Count I alleges that Prescott's use of the name “Volcano Inn” for her bed and breakfast, such as in her domain name, internet listings, and advertisements, infringed on Ober's trade name. Id. at 7.

         ii. Count II-Constructive Trust

         Count II alleges that Prescott was unjustly enriched by using the name “Volcano Inn, ” and seeks to hold all unjust proceeds in constructive trust for plaintiff Ober. Id. at 7-8.

         iii. Count III-Equitable Lien

         Count III alleges that Prescott was unjustly enriched by using the name “Volcano Inn, ” and seeks to establish an equitable lien on the property so that Ober can recover the unjust proceeds. Id. at 8.

         iv. Count IV-Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage

         Count IV alleges that Prescott's use of the name “Volcano Inn” interfered with Ober's ...


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