BALDRIDGE v. AMICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY
ORDER denying 26 Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; granting 28 Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 6/30/2017. (lmt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CARLOS M. BALDRIDGE,
AMICA MUTUAL INSURANCE
COMPANY, et al.,
Before the Court are Cross Motions for Partial Summary Judgment on a discrete issue in
this insurance coverage dispute. See doc. nos. 26 and 28. The issue to be determined by this
Court at this juncture of the proceedings is whether underinsured motorist coverage is available
to Plaintiff for stacking purposes on one of his four personal vehicles which Defendant insured.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment may be granted if, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving
party, “the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Melrose, Inc. v. City of
Pittsburgh, 613 F.3d 380, 387 (3d Cir. 2010).
A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of
the suit under applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see
also Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011). Disputes must be both: (1)
material, meaning concerning facts that will affect the outcome of the issue under substantive
law, and (2) genuine, meaning there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute
“to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties’ differing versions of the truth at trial.” In re
Lemington Home for Aged, 659 F.3d 282, 290 (3d Cir. 2011).
A party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of supporting its assertion
that fact(s) cannot be genuinely disputed by citing to particular parts of materials in the record –
i.e., depositions, documents, affidavits, stipulations, or other materials – or by showing that: (1)
the materials cited by the non-moving party do not establish the presence of a genuine dispute, or
(2) that the non-moving party cannot produce admissible evidence to support its fact(s). Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(c)(1). The moving party may discharge its burden by “pointing out to the district
court” the “absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case” when the nonmoving
party bears the ultimate burden of proof for the claim in question. Conoshenti v. Public Service
Elec. & Gas Co, 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004), quoting Singletary v. Pennsylvania Dept. of
Corrections, 266 F.3d 186, 192 n. 2 (3d Cir. 2001), quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
Conversely, in order to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party
must support its assertion that fact(s) are genuinely disputed by citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, or by showing that: (1) the materials cited by the moving party do not
establish the absence of a genuine dispute, or (2) the moving party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support its fact(s). Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). When determining whether there are
any genuine issues of material fact, all inferences should be drawn in favor of the non-moving
party. Berckeley Inv. Group, Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 201 (3d Cir. 2006).
In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not make credibility
determinations, and summary judgment is “inappropriate when a case will turn on credibility
determinations.” El v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority, 479 F.3d 232 (3d Cir.
2007), citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
In the instant case, the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. It is well
established in this Circuit that the filing of contradictory motions for summary judgment “does
not constitute an agreement that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the
losing party waives judicial consideration and determination whether genuine issues of material
fact exist.” Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, Pa., 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d Cir. 2008), quoting
Rains v. Cascade Indus., Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968).
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Because the Court writes primarily for the Parties, this section will be truncated so that
only the facts relevant to the adjudication of the narrow issue presented shall be set forth.
Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident on June 10, 2014, when his vehicle was
rear-ended by another vehicle. See Complaint at doc. no. 1-2, ¶ 4-7. Plaintiff settled the
underlying accident for the limits of the tortfeasor’s insurance policy with Defendant’s consent.
Plaintiff has averred that the injuries he sustained as a result of the underlying motor
vehicle accident have rendered him unable to work as a professional truck driver, have caused
him to expend money for medical treatment and care, and will continue to cost him money for
medical care in the future. Id. at ¶ 8-9.
Defendant issued the insurance policy in question to Plaintiff on June 16, 2013, and
provided coverage through June 16, 2014. Doc. no. 13, ¶ 90; doc. no 14, ¶ 2. This policy
originally listed three vehicles, among them, a 1991 Ford Mustang (“Mustang”). Doc. no. 13,
¶ 91; doc. no 14, ¶ 3. In October of 2013, Defendant added an additional vehicle to its insurance
policy, thereby insuring a total of four vehicles. Doc. no. 13, ¶ 94; doc. no 14, ¶ 6.
The Parties do not dispute that Defendant insured four of Plaintiff’s personal vehicles,
nor that he had underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM coverage”) in the amount of $300,000.00
on three of the four of those personal vehicles. Doc. no. 13, ¶ 96; doc. no 14, ¶ 8. The only
question for the Court to resolve by way of these Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment is
whether Plaintiff had or is entitled to UIM coverage on the fourth vehicle, specifically, his
Mustang. Id. See also, doc nos. 26 and 29. Thus, the question for this Court to resolve is
whether Plaintiff had UIM coverage in the amount of $900,000.00 ($300,000.00 multiplied by
three (3) vehicles) or $1,200,000.00 ($300,000.00 multiplied by four (4) vehicles).
Plaintiff’s position is that he never executed a valid waiver rejecting UIM coverage for
the Mustang, and thus, he is entitled to a determination that he has UIM coverage on the
Mustang in the amount of $300,000.00, just like he did on his three other vehicles, resulting in a
total of $1,200,000.00 in UIM coverage. Doc. no. 26. In short, Plaintiff contends that because
he did not execute a valid waiver rejecting UIM coverage on the Mustang, he is entitled to stack
an additional $300,000.00 on top of his other three vehicles’ UIM coverage. Id.
Defendant’s position is that because it never provided liability coverage on Plaintiff’s
Mustang, Defendant was never required to offer Plaintiff UIM coverage on the Mustang. Doc.
no. 29. Defendant, in support of its argument, produced a portion of the insurance policy it
issued to Plaintiff which indicates that the Mustang was “not covered” for liability; but rather,
solely covered “damage to the [Mustang]” for accidents “other than collision loss.” Doc. no. 282, p. 24.
Because this is an issue of law, and there are no material facts in dispute, this matter is
ripe for adjudication.
This matter is governed by Pennsylvania law. Pennsylvania statutory law governs
insurance requirements on motor vehicles such as the one at issue. Relevant to the Court’s
discussion is the section on the availability, scope, and amount of UIM coverage which reads in
pertinent part as follows:
(a) Mandatory offering.--No motor vehicle liability insurance policy
shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this Commonwealth, with
respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this
Commonwealth, unless uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist
coverages are offered therein or supplemental thereto in amounts as
provided in section 1734 (relating to request for lower limits of coverage).
Purchase of uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverages is
(c) Underinsured motorist coverage.--Underinsured motorist coverage
shall provide protection for persons who suffer injury arising out of the
maintenance or use of a motor vehicle and are legally entitled to recover
damages therefor from owners or operators of underinsured motor
vehicles. The named insured shall be informed that he may reject
underinsured motorist coverage by signing the following written rejection
REJECTION OF UNDERINSURED MOTORIST PROTECTION
By signing this waiver I am rejecting underinsured motorist coverage
under this policy, for myself and all relatives residing in my household.
Underinsured coverage protects me and relatives living in my household
for losses and damages suffered if injury is caused by the negligence of a
driver who does not have enough insurance to pay for all losses and
damages. I knowingly and voluntarily reject this coverage.
Signature of First Named Insured
(c.1) Form of waiver.--Insurers shall print the rejection forms required by
subsections (b) and (c) on separate sheets in prominent type and location.
The forms must be signed by the first named insured and dated to be valid.
The signatures on the forms may be witnessed by an insurance agent or
broker. Any rejection form that does not specifically comply with this
section is void. If the insurer fails to produce a valid rejection form,
uninsured or underinsured coverage, or both, as the case may be, under
that policy shall be equal to the bodily injury liability limits. On policies in
which either uninsured or underinsured coverage has been rejected, the
policy renewals must contain notice in prominent type that the policy does
not provide protection against damages caused by uninsured or
underinsured motorists. Any person who executes a waiver under
subsection (b) or (c) shall be precluded from claiming liability of any
person based upon inadequate information.
75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1731.
Another portion of Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Code at issue in this matter reads in
pertinent part as flows:
A named insured may request in writing the issuance of coverages under
section 1731 (relating to availability, scope and amount of coverage) in
amounts equal to or less than the limits of liability for bodily injury.
75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1734.
Interpreting these two sections the Supreme Court for the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania has held:
. . . [W]e agree with the characterization of Sections 1731 and 1734
offered by the Third Circuit in Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Resseguie, 980 F.2d
226, 230 (3d Cir. 1992). Tasked with interpreting the requirements for an
effective Section 1734 reduction, the Third Circuit began its statutory
construction analysis as follows:
[Section] 1731 is a simple statement whose plain meaning is
apparent from its language. It mandates that an insurance
company cannot issue a policy in the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania unless it provides UM/UIM coverage equal to the
bodily injury liability coverage, except as provided in § 1734.
[W]e also agree that [Section] 1734’s language is plain and the
Pennsylvania General Assembly's intention is clear. By its
terms, a named insured may lower her statutorily provided
UIM coverage limits by requesting in writing of her insurer to
do so. The insurance company’s obligation to issue a policy
with [UM/UIM] coverage in an amount equal to the policy’s
bodily injury liability coverage is not relieved unless it has
received such a written request.
Id. at 231 (emphasis added).
Blood v. Old Guard Ins. Co., 934 A.2d 1218, 1226 (Pa. 2007).
Applying the above cited law to the instant matter, the Court notes that plain reading of
Section 1731(a) reads, “[n]o motor vehicle liability insurance policy shall be delivered . . . unless
. . . underinsured motorist coverages are offered . . . .” (emphasis added). Defendant has
produced pages of the insurance policy at issue which indicates that the Mustang was “not
covered” for “liability”. See doc. no. 28-2, p. 24. The only coverage for which the Mustang was
“covered” was the “other than collision loss” coverage. Id.
This policy issued to Plaintiff appears to have provided liability coverage for the other
three vehicles, but not for the Mustang. Because the Mustang was not insured for liability, this
Court concurs with Defendant that the plain and unambiguous reading of the relevant statutes
would indicate that the Defendant was never required to offer UIM benefits on the Mustang.
Accordingly, no signed waiver of UIM benefits with respect to the Mustang was required by law.
The Court concludes that there is no UIM coverage available to Plaintiff for the Mustang
under the policy of insurance. Therefore, the Court will grant Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment and deny Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment. As discussed during the case
management conference, the Parties will now return to their Early Neutral Evaluator (followed
by mediation) to see if the matter can be resolved without further action by this Court.
s/Arthur J. Schwab
Arthur J. Schwab
United States District Judge
ORDER OF COURT
AND NOW, this 30th day of June, 2017, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant’s Motion
for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 28) and DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
Doc. no. 26. The Parties are further ORDERED to return to their Early Neutral Evaluator
(followed by mediation) to see if the matter be resolved without further action by this Court.
s/Arthur J. Schwab
Arthur J. Schwab
United States District Judge
All ECF Registered Counsel of Record
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