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Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Rest. Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

October 12, 2017, Argued; August 22, 2018, Filed

No. 17-1479

Opinion

 [*149]  CHAGARES, Circuit Judge.

This appeal, which presents issues of statutory interpretation, stems from a tragic automobile crash that killed the intoxicated driver and seriously injured the sole passenger. Encompass Insurance Company ("Encompass"), the liability carrier for the vehicle, settled the passenger's claims against the driver's estate and all other possible parties, including Stone Mansion Restaurant Incorporated ("Stone Mansion") — the restaurant that allegedly overserved the driver. Thereafter, Encompass brought the instant action against Stone Mansion in Pennsylvania state court, seeking contribution under state law. Stone Mansion removed the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Following a dispute [**2]  over removal, the District Court concluded that the case was properly before it and later dismissed the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Encompass appeals both the decision on the removal and the dismissal. For the reasons stated below, we will affirm in part and reverse in part.

On the night of March 20 and the early morning of March 21, 2011, Brian Viviani attended an event at Stone Mansion, a restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The restaurant allegedly furnished him with alcohol until he became intoxicated and then continued to serve him alcohol. Thereafter, Viviani left Stone Mansion and drove away in an automobile with Helen Hoey, who had hosted the event. After Viviani drove a short distance, the vehicle struck a guardrail and flipped onto its roof, killing him and causing Hoey significant injury.

Hoey filed a civil action against Viviani's estate on July 25, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. She alleged that the accident occurred because Viviani was driving while intoxicated. His estate tendered the defense against the lawsuit to Encompass, which was at all relevant times the liability insurance carrier for the vehicle. Encompass reached a settlement [**3]  agreement with Hoey, whereby it paid her $600,000 and she released her claims against all possible defendants.

Encompass, a citizen of Illinois, then brought the instant action against Stone Mansion, a Pennsylvania corporation, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Encompass alleged that: (1) it stands in the shoes of the insured, Viviani's estate; (2) Stone Mansion served Viviani alcohol while he was visibly intoxicated; (3) "[u]nder Pennsylvania's Dram Shop law, a business or individual who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for any damage that person might cause"; and (4) as a joint tortfeasor under the Uniform Contribution Among Tort-feasors Act ("UCATA"), Stone Mansion is liable to Encompass for contribution. Appendix ("App.") 36-44.

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902 F.3d 147 *; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 23576 **

ENCOMPASS INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant v. STONE MANSION RESTAURANT INCORPORATED

Subsequent History: Later proceeding at Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Rest., Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213774 (W.D. Pa., Dec. 19, 2018)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. (No. 2-17-CV-00125). District Judge: Hon. Arthur J. Schwab.

Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Rest., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18591 (W.D. Pa., Feb. 9, 2017)Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Rest., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22396 (W.D. Pa., Feb. 16, 2017)

CORE TERMS

removal, district court, licensee, intoxicated, tortfeasor, alcohol, customer, federal court, properly join, state court, visibly, absurd, argues, joint tort feasor, electronic, service of process, plain meaning, third person, in-state, resident, parties, liquor

Civil Procedure, Removal, Postremoval Remands, Appellate Review, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Motions for Remand, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Specific Cases Removed, Diversity of Citizenship, Elements for Removal, Removability, Proper Transferors, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Procedural Matters, Fraudulent Joinder, Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, Torts, Settlements, Multiple Party Settlements, Contribution, Types of Negligence Actions, Alcohol Providers, Dram Shop Acts, Multiple Defendants, Contribution, Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, Proof, Violations of Law, Statutes