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Argonaut Great Central Ins. Co. v. Audrain County Joint Communications

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 11, 2015

Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Audrain County Joint Communications, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted September 10, 2014.

Page 698

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - Hannibal.

For Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company, Plaintiff - Appellee: Richard Gerber, Matt R. Leffler, Evans & Dixon, Saint Louis, MO; Thomas Michael Ward, Brown & James, Saint Louis, MO.

For Audrain County Joint Communications, Defendant - Appellant: Kent L. Brown, Judith Anne Willis, Jefferson City, MO.

Before BYE, COLLOTON, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 699

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company (Argonaut) sued Audrain County Joint Communications (ACJC) alleging ACJC's negligence in monitoring a security alarm panel caused or contributed to damages arising out of the burglary and fire of a grocery store insured by Argonaut. ACJC brought a motion for summary judgment arguing it was entitled to sovereign immunity as a Missouri state entity, and to statutory immunity as a 911 call center. The district court[1] denied summary judgment after finding ACJC had waived its sovereign and statutory immunity by purchasing insurance. ACJC then filed this interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's order denying summary judgment. We dismiss part of the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and otherwise affirm.

I

The origins of this suit date back to 1977, when Hickman Foods, Inc. (Hickman's) contracted with a private company for burglar alarm services at its IGA grocery store in Mexico, Missouri. Hickman's originally contracted with a company called Crow Security, Inc. In 2005, Q Security Solutions, L.L.C., (Q Security) purchased Crow Security. The purchase agreement between the two security companies provided that Q Security would take over Crow Security's contracts, including the contract with Hickman's.

For reasons not fully explained in the record before us, Q Security's alarm panels were located at the public 911 call center operated by ACJC. Public employees at the ACJC call center monitored the private company's alarm panels. When an alarm at a Q Security customer's location was triggered, ACJC employees would hear an audible alarm at the panel board. As soon as the audible alarm sounded, a

Page 700

light bulb corresponding to a particular customer was supposed to illuminate. In April 2006, however, two ACJC employees tested the Q Security alarm panels and discovered six of the light bulbs -- including the one for Hickman's IGA -- were not working. The two employees reported the problem to their supervisor, but ACJC ...


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