United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
J. Novak United States District Judge
Liberty Insurance Corporation ("Liberty") brings
this action seeking a declaration that it does not have an
obligation to indemnify Defendant James A. Hayden
("Hayden") or to make payments to Defendant TLB
("TLB") arising from a default judgment obtained by
TLB against Hayden in an earlier personal injury action. This
matter comes before the Court on Liberty's Motion for
Summary Judgment, arguing that the policy at issue did not
cover Hayden, because he did not constitute a member of the
insured's household at the time of the occurrence.
Defendants have failed to put forth admissible evidence that
raises a genuine issue of material fact that would prevent a
reasonable factfinder from returning a verdict in
Liberty's favor. Consequently, for the reasons set forth
below, the Court hereby GRANTS Liberty's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 39).
Factual Background 
action arises out of a dog bite that occurred at a property
subject to a homeowner's insurance policy (the
"Policy" (ECF No. 40-1)) issued by Liberty.
issued the Policy to Sharon Wheeler ("Wheeler"),
identifying Wheeler as the "insured" and "951
Swan Lane, Ruther Glen VA 22546-1206" (the "Swan
Lane House") as the "Insured Location."
(Policy at 4.) With respect to personal liability, the
If a claim is made or a suit is brought against an
"insured" for damages because of "bodily
injury" or "property damage" cause by an
"occurrence" to which the coverage applies, we
will... pay up to our limit of liability for the damages for
which the "insured" is legally liable
(Policy at 19.) The policy provided for a coverage limit of
$500, 000. (Policy at 4.) Further, the Policy covered certain
medical expenses incurred by others:
We will pay the necessary medical expenses that are incurred
or medically ascertained within three years of the date of an
accident causing "bodily injury." ... [T]his
coverage applies only: 1. To a person on the "insured
location" with the permission of an "insured"
(Policy at 19.)
Policy defines "insured" as "you and residents
of your household who are... [y]our relatives; or [o]ther
persons under the age of 21 and in the care of any named
person above." (Policy at 9.) "You" and
"your," in turn, refer to the "'named
insured' shown in the Declarations and the spouse if a
resident of the same household." (Policy at 9.)
Wheeler's Purchase and Use of the Swan Lane
and her current husband, Daniel Lee Wheeler, had lived
together at 5907 Vista Court in Fredericksburg, Virginia (the
"Vista Court House") for the duration of their
17-year marriage. (Dep. Tr. of Sharon Wheeler, May 25, 2017
("Wheeler Dep.") (ECF No. 40-2) at 5:14-6:2.) At
some point in 2013, Wheeler and her husband began
experiencing marital difficulties. (Wheeler Dep. 8:4-11:17.)
Wheeler occasionally stayed overnight with friends, taking
only her clothes with her. (Wheeler Dep. 8:4-11:17.) Because
of these marital problems, Wheeler purchased the Swan Lane
House, closing the sale on October 18, 2013. (Wheeler Dep.
8:4-11:17.) By the time of the closing, Wheeler and her
husband had begun discussions regarding reconciliation and
the possibility of continuing to live together. (Wheeler Dep.
17:19-18:8.) Neither Wheeler nor her husband had filed for
legal separation, nor had she contacted a lawyer. (Wheeler
the closing on the Swan Lane House, Wheeler stayed there
every night for a week, from October 19, 2013 to October 26,
2013. (Wheeler Dep. 18:19-19:12.) Wheeler had not yet
determined whether she would reside at the Swan Lane House
permanently or return to the Vista Court House to live with
her husband. (Wheeler Dep. 22:25-23:8.) Wheeler brought some
of her clothes with her to the Swan Lane House and purchased
some dishes, utensils, sheets and towels, which she left at
the Swan Lane House after the week. (Wheeler Dep. 20:7-12.)
She also purchased a sofa that remained there. (Wheeler Dep.
week of staying at the Swan Lane House, Wheeler reconciled
with her husband and returned to the Vista Court House.
(Wheeler Dep. 19:9-12, 27:11-19.) She left the kitchen items
and furniture at the Swan Lane House, but she did not leave
any personal belongings there. (Wheeler Dep. 29:4-23,
39:5-12, 46:14-47:5, 60:8-21.) After that week, she did ...