Plaintiff Hudson Insurance Company brought suit against DuRussel Insurance Agency, Inc. and Blue Water Agribusiness LLC concerning the alleged breach of two separate crop insurance contracts issued by Hudson. The first contract was between only Hudson and DuRussel and provided that DuRussel would sell crop insurance and place it with Hudson. The first contract also provided that commissions might be paid by Hudson to DuRussel in advance based on projected policy placement and that DuRussel would be obligated to Hudson for any resulting overpayment of commissions. Both parties conceded the existence of this obligation and that DuRussel owed Hudson an amount of overpaid commissions. The second contract was between all three parties and provided an identical sale structure and advance commission provision as the first contract. The parties conceded that Hudson did not pay Blue Water any advance commissions pursuant to the second contract.
On Hudson’s motion for summary judgment, the court examined each contract separately. For the first contract, the court granted summary judgment against DuRussel because there was no genuine dispute between the parties as to DuRussel’s obligation to pay back any overpaid commission and the pending amount owed to Hudson. Although DuRussel claimed that since Hudson sought summary judgment against both DuRussel and Blue Water, its otherwise meritorious claim against just DuRussel cannot be sustained, the court reasoned that either Blue Water is not liable because it signed a separate agreement, or it is jointly liable with DuRussel because it signed the same agreement. For the second contract, the court held that summary judgment for breach of contract was inappropriate against Blue Water because Hudson did not pay Blue Water any advance commissions. Hudson Insurance Co. v. DuRussel Insurance Agency, Inc., No. 15-cv-12073 (USDC E.D. Mich. May 9, 2016).