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Connors v. Government Employees Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Maryland

April 17, 2015

LINDA CONNORS, INDIVIDUALLY ETC.
v.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY

Argued: February 9, 2015.

Page 596

Certiorari to the Court of Special Appeals (Circuit Court for Montgomery County). Case No. 341803-V. Louise G. Scrivener, JUDGE.

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS AFFIRMED; COSTS TO BE PAID BY PETITIONERS.

ARGUED BY Amy M. Orsi, Stephen A. Markey, III (Law Offices of Stephen A. Markey, III, P.C. of Towson, MD) on brief FOR PETITIONERS.

ARGUED BY John B. Bratt, Esquire on Brief of Amicus Curiae the Maryland Association for Justice, Inc.

ARGUED BY Frank F. Daily (Sean P. Edwards, Law Offices of Frank F. Daily, P.A. of Hunt Valley MD) on brief FOR RESPONDENT.

ARGUED BEFORE Barbera, C.J., Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, JJ. Opinion by Harrell, J.

OPINION

Page 597

[442 Md. 470] Harrell, J.

The parties in this appeal--an insurance company and two of its insureds--disagree as to how to calculate the proceeds due to the insureds pursuant to the underinsured motorist provisions of their policy. The insureds argue that the express terms of the insurance contract mandate that the insurance company pay them $300,000. The insurance company argues instead that its insureds are owed only $100,000. To settle this dispute, we are called upon to interpret the subject policy. In so doing, we conclude that the policy is not ambiguous. We agree with the insurance company that the terms of the policy mandate that the insureds are owed $100,000.

I. Statement of Facts: The Accident

The facts are not in dispute. On 14 August 2009, Robert and Linda Connors (collectively, the " Connors," the " Plaintiffs," or the " Petitioners" ), husband and wife, took an ill-fated stroll in their Waldorf neighborhood. A motor vehicle operated by Adam Pond (" Pond" ), while backing out of a residential driveway at 3269 Captain Dament Drive, struck the Connors. [442 Md. 471] Plaintiffs alleged, in their subsequent Complaint, that, as she was struck, Linda Connors hit the vehicle with her hand and screamed, causing it to come to a stop. Pond saw allegedly Linda screaming on the ground and nonetheless resumed moving the vehicle again, backing over Robert Connors, as he attempted to flee the scene.

Both of the Connors sustained injuries. Robert sustained serious injuries to his head, including a traumatic brain injury, as well as injuries to his neck, body, and limbs. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital for treatment of his injuries and transferred later to the Crofton Rehabilitation Center, where he died on 31 January 2011.[1] Linda sustained injuries to her neck, back, leg, and arm, and also claimed emotional injuries incurred as a result of watching her husband being run-over.

Page 598

At the time of the accident, the Connors together owned a vehicle insured by Government Employees Insurance Co. (" GEICO" ) under a Maryland Family Automobile Insurance Policy numbered 0377-86-55-06 (the " GEICO policy" or the " policy" ). GEICO concedes that both Robert and Linda Connors are " insureds" under the policy. The terms of the policy included underinsured motorist (" UIM" ) coverage of $300,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. Pond maintained automobile liability insurance with Allstate Insurance Co. (" Allstate" ), limited to $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. The record does not divulge the exact monetary amount of damages sustained by Robert and Linda Connors, although GEICO concedes that the total amount exceeds all available and collectable insurance. The Connors settled with Allstate for the limits of Pond's liability insurance after GEICO ...


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