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Staker & Parson Companies, Inc. v. Scottsdale Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Utah

July 25, 2018

STAKER & PARSON COMPANIES, INC., d/b/a WESTERN ROCK PRODUCTS, a Utah corporation, Plaintiff,
SCOTTSDALE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Ohio corporation; COLORADO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, a New Hampshire corporation; and HANCOCK-LEAVITT INSURANCE AGENCY, INC., an Arizona corporation; DOE INDIVIDUALS 1-10, unknown individuals; and ROE ENTITIES 1-10, unknown entities. Defendants.


          David Nuffer, United States District Judge.

         Defendant Hancock-Leavitt Insurance Agency, Inc. (“Hancock-Leavitt”) filed a Motion to Dismiss[1] all claims asserted against it in this case by Plaintiff Staker & Parson Companies, Inc. d/b/a Western Rock Products (“Plaintiff”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. A hearing on the motion was held on June 15, 2018.[2] Plaintiff was represented by counsel, Elijah Milne, and Hancock-Leavitt was represented by counsel, Matthew N. Evans.

         Preliminary Factual Findings

         Based upon the papers filed by the parties, oral argument and good cause, the following findings are entered only for purposes of Hancock-Leavitt's Motion to Dismiss:

         Hancock-Leavitt is engaged in the business of procuring insurance for businesses and individuals. Blake Reidhead Inc. (“BDR”), an Arizona corporation doing business in Arizona, contracted with Hancock-Leavitt for some insurance policies for its business. BDR procured two policies from Hancock-Leavitt, a general automobile coverage and a general commercial liability policy. Colorado Casualty Insurance Company issued the commercial general liability policy, and the commercial auto coverage policy was issued from Scottsdale Insurance Company through Colonial General Insurance Agency.

         For both policies, the underlying workplace accident that gave rise to the disputed insurance coverage that forms the basis of this action occurred in Arizona and involved an Arizona resident.

         Hancock-Leavitt keeps its business records in its office in Taylor, Arizona. It has two bank accounts that are located in the Snowflake, Arizona branch of the National Bank of Arizona. Hancock-Leavitt does not own any assets, property, real estate, or equipment outside of Arizona. Hancock-Leavitt itself is owned by Monti Hancock, a 40% shareholder and resident of Arizona, and by the Leavitt Group, Inc., which owns the other 60%. The Leavitt Group is a Nevada corporation that has its offices in Cedar City, Utah.

         Monti Hancock is the producer and agent for Hancock-Leavitt. He is the only employee, board member, or owner with a key man life insurance policy. He directs the Hancock-Leavitt day-to-day operations. Hancock-Leavitt's other corporate officers are located in Cedar City, Utah, and they attend annual meetings via telephone from Utah and have on rare occasion been to Hancock-Leavitt's Arizona offices. The day-to-day operations of Hancock-Leavitt are left up to Monti Hancock. Hancock-Leavitt is registered to do business in Utah, has appointed a registered agent in Utah, and has an active insurance license in Utah. However, well over 95% of Hancock-Leavitt's accounts are located in Arizona. Hancock-Leavitt has only three to five currently insured clients who are located in Utah. Those clients were in Arizona or other states when their first policy was issued but later moved to Utah.

         Hancock-Leavitt purchases many services from the Leavitt Group in Utah including IT services, tax preparation services, billing services, sales training, legal services. But Monti Hancock is the decision-maker as to these services being purchased or discontinued. The Leavitt Group monitors and reviews Hancock-Leavitt's financial results, budgets, capital purchases, and monthly reports. But nearly all of the revenue generated from insurance customers occurs in Arizona. The day-to-day decision-making on hiring and firing employees and spending money also occurs in the Taylor, Arizona branch through Monti Hancock. Hancock-Leavitt is an agency that serves the Taylor, Heber, and Snowflake area of Arizona. That is where most of its customers are located. Hancock-Leavitt does not advertise in Utah.

         The bylaws of Hancock-Leavitt specify that any corporate meetings are concerned they would take place in Taylor, Arizona, or via telephone. Monti Hancock has always been in Arizona for those meetings.

         Conclusions of Law for the Motion

         Based upon these findings, the following conclusions of law are entered:

         General Personal Jurisdiction

         “[A] court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign (sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any and all claims against them when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systemic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum state.”[3] For a corporation's domicile for purposes of this analysis, it is the place where it is incorporated, or the principal place of ...

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