United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Bruce Lee United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Robert Hall's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 47), and Defendant
Travelers Property Casualty Company of America
("Travelers")'s Motion for Summary Judgment
(Dkt. No. 48). This case concerns Plaintiffs
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment to establish the limit of
commercial automobile insurance to the extent a third-party
tortfeasor is deemed underinsured.
issue before the Court is whether the Travelers'
insurance policy entitles Plaintiff to underinsured motorist
coverage under the Virginia or Maryland limit, which turns on
what state the vehicle involved in a collision was
"principally garaged." The Court holds that
Plaintiff is entitled to up to $2, 000, 000 in underinsured
motorist coverage under the Virginia limit because the
vehicle was principally garaged in Virginia while covered
under the policy.
the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment and
DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
15, 2014, Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident.
(Stip. ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 42.) Plaintiff brought a negligence
action in Fairfax Circuit Court styled as Hall v.
El-Ibrahimy, No. CL 2015-02384 (the "Ibrahimy
Lawsuit"). (Stip. ¶ 2.) The defendant in the
Ibrahimy Lawsuit has automobile insurance coverage with
bodily injury limits of $25, 000. (Stip. ¶ 15.) Although
the Ibrahimy Lawsuit is not scheduled for trial until
November 2016, the parties expect that Plaintiffs damages
will exceed $25, 000. (Stip. ¶ 15.) At the time of the
accident, Plaintiff was employed by WP Company, LLC ("WP
Company"), which publishes The Washington Post.
(Stip. ¶ 3.) In the course of his employment with WP
Company, Plaintiff was driving a tractor truck (the
"Truck") owned by Penske Truck Leasing Company,
L.P. ("Penske"). (Stip. ¶¶ 4-5.)
issued to Nash Holdings, LLC a commercial insurance policy
effective from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014 (the
"Policy"). (Stip. ¶ 12.) WP Company is a
subsidiary of Nash Holdings, LLC, and as a WP Company
employee, Plaintiff was an "insured" under the
Policy at the time of the accident. (Stip. ¶ 13.) The
Policy contains separate uninsured ("UM") and
underinsured ("UIM") endorsements for several
states with varying coverage of up to $2, 000, 000.
(See Def.'s Opp'n at 8, Dkt. No. 55;
Pl's Opp'n at 8, Dkt. No. 57.) According to the
Policy, "The LIMIT OF INSURANCE for the coverages shown
below is the LIMIT OF INSURANCE shown for the State where a
covered 'auto' is principally garaged." (Stip.
¶ 16.) Both parties agree that the Policy does not
define "principally garaged." (See
Def.'s Br. 12-14; Pl's Br. at 16.) The Policy
provides that the limit for Virginia is $2, 000, 000, whereas
the limit for Maryland is $75, 000. (Stip. ¶ 16.) The
applicable coverage is for "Owned 'Autos' Only,
" and a "Leased Auto" is considered the same
as an "auto" owned by the named insured. (Policy at
40, 69, Dkt. No. 42-4.)
Company and Penske were parties to a lease agreement under
which Penske leased various tractor trucks to WP Company for
use in WP Company's regular business operations. (Stip.
¶ 7.) As part of the lease agreement, if one of the
leased trucks was temporarily unavailable due to maintenance
or repair, Penske provided a substitute vehicle to WP Company
during the period of unavailability. (Stip. ¶ 8.) Penske
provided the Truck to WP Company on May 14, 2014 as a
substitute due to the temporary unavailability of a vehicle
being serviced (i.e., Unit #574863). (Stip. ¶
8.) WP Company took possession of the Truck at a Penske
rental facility located in Virginia. (Stip. ¶ 10.) WP
Company also garaged its leased trucks at its facility in
Virginia. (Stip. ¶ 11.) Thus, both the Truck and the
insured vehicle being serviced were garaged in Virginia.
Truck was a "covered" auto under the Policy at the
time of the accident. (Stip. ¶ 14.) The Truck was
not a "covered" auto outside the three-day
rental period between May 14, 2014 and May 16, 2014. (Stip.
¶ 14.) From approximately April 17, 2013 through June
30, 2014, including the date of the accident, the Truck was
titled and registered in Maryland and had a Maryland license
plate. (Stip. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff "stipulate[d] that,
if the period of time from June 2013 through the date of the
Accident is the relevant period of time, the Truck was
'principally garaged' at Penske's Capitol
Heights, Maryland facility during that time." (Stip.
January 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Declaratory
Judgment pursuant to Va. Code § 8.01-184. Travelers
removed this action based on diversity jurisdiction. On
August 1, 2016, the parties filed the Motions for Summary
Judgment now before the Court.
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court must grant
summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court
views the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986); Askew v. HRFC, LLC, 810 F.3d 263,
266 (4th Cir.2016).
motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported,
the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine
dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Dash v.
Mayweather,731 F.3d 303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at
247-48. A fact is "material" if it "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Id.; Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd,718 F.3d 308,
313 (4th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). A dispute ...