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Supreme Court of Alabama
August 23, 1991
[*1365] This is an appeal from a declaratory judgment in which the trial court held that the Alabama Municipal Insurance Company has no duty to defend a civil action brought against A. A. Chandler on the grounds that he had fraudulently and illegally obtained public funds. We affirm.
On May 10, 1990, P. M. Johnston, the district attorney of Lamar County, Alabama, filed a civil suit against A. A. Chandler, individually and as mayor of the City of Vernon, Alabama. The complaint alleged that Chandler had illegally received $ 47,000 by fraudulently and unlawfully depleting the public funds of the City of Vernon; it sought a return of those funds to the city. The suit filed by the district attorney was the result of an eight-count indictment [**2] brought against Chandler by a Lamar County grand jury charging him with obtaining money by deceit, in violation of § 13A-8-3, Code of Alabama 1975, and the unlawful and felonious use of his official position to obtain direct, personal gain, in violation of § 36-25-5.
The Alabama Municipal Insurance Company, the insurance carrier for the City of Vernon, then filed this action, seeking to have the court declare that it had no duty to defend A. A. Chandler in the civil action brought against him. Alabama Municipal filed a motion for a judgment on the pleadings, [*1366] contending that the plain language of the policy denied coverage for claims resulting from any dishonest or criminal act. The trial judge converted that motion to a motion for summary judgment and held a hearing on the motion on January 29, 1991. The trial court entered a summary judgment for Alabama Municipal. Chandler appeals.
We must determine whether the trial court erred in entering the summary judgment for the insurance company. ] Rule 56, A. R. Civ. P., sets forth a two-tiered standard for determining whether to enter a summary judgment. In order to enter a summary judgment, the trial court must determine: 1) that there is [**3] no genuine issue of material fact, and 2) that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. In determining whether the summary judgment was properly entered, the reviewing court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. See Turner v. Systems Fuel, Inc., 475 So.2d 539, 541 (Ala. 1985); Ryan v. Charles Townsend Ford, Inc., 409 So.2d 784 (Ala. 1981). Rule 56 is read in conjunction with the "substantial evidence rule" ( § 12-21-12, Code 1975), for actions filed after June 11, 1987. See Bass v. SouthTrust Bank of Baldwin County, 538 So.2d 794, 797-98 (Ala. 1989). In order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must present "substantial evidence," i.e., "evidence of such weight and quality that fair-minded persons in the exercise of impartial judgment can reasonably infer the existence of the fact sought to be proved." West v. Founders Life Assurance Co. of Florida, 547 So.2d 870, 871 (Ala. 1989).
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585 So. 2d 1365 *; 1991 Ala. LEXIS 929 **
A. A. Chandler v. Alabama Municipal Insurance Company
Subsequent History: [**1] Released for Publication September 19, 1991.
Prior History: Appeal from Lamar Circuit Court, No. CV-90-059; Clatus Junkin, Judge.
Insured, summary judgment, trial court, coverage
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, General Overview, Judgments, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Evidentiary Considerations, Motions for Summary Judgment, Opposing Materials, Insurance Law, Liability & Performance Standards, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Duty to Defend, Business Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings