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Kponve v. Allstate Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Maryland

June 22, 2016

AUSTRIA KPONVE
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY

          Argued: May 10, 2016

         Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case No. 361484V

          Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Harrell, Glenn T., Jr. (Retired, Specially Assigned), Battaglia, Lynne A. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          Harrell, J.

         With somewhat greater frequency than Halley's Comet becomes observable to the naked eye from Earth, [1] this Court will adopt, in whole or in part (and without substantive change), an opinion of the Court of Special Appeals because we agree with its resolution of the matter and cannot improve often in any material way upon its analysis.[2] The opinion of the Court of Special Appeals in the present case, Allstate Ins. Co. v. Kponve, 225 Md.App. 370, 124 A.3d 1147 (2015), is such a nonpareil.[3] Its explication and application of the relevant law to the questions presented to it is spot-on. The denouement of the opinion represents an elegant balance of justice and law.

         Because the questions presented to this Court and the intermediate appellate court differ slightly, we elaborate briefly on that point alone. We granted Austria Kponve's Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in this case to consider the sole question of whether Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 315 Md. 182, 553 A.2d 1268 (1989) remains good law in Maryland, in light of the Court of Special Appeals's opinion in the present case. The parties disagree, of course, on the correct response to this query and, thus, we make clear our answer that Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, remains sound law. The Court of Special

         Appeals, in answering a different question put to it by the parties[4], concluded that:

Allstate was never sued in contract and therefore we are dealing with a tort case, pure and simple and not, as in Miller, with what was "functionally . . . a tort case." In a tort case, regardless as to whether policy limits are disputed, the amount of uninsured motorist coverage is irrelevant-those limits would only have relevance if it was necessary to bring a breach of contract action against Allstate. There is no language in Miller that supports [Kponve's] position or bolsters the (implied) position of the trial judge in this case. Instead, the Miller case makes clear, that Allstate did not have the burden of proof as to contract damages in a tort case such as this.

Kponve, 225 Md.App. at 387-88, 124 A.3d at 1157-58. We do not perceive that the Court of Special Appeals disregarded or diminished, as Petitioner suggests, the vitality of the holding and reasoning in Miller. Rather, recognizing that the present case proceeded entirely as a tort action, and not a contract action, the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, through its sound reasoning, placed, upon remand, this case on the correct Miller path.

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

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Notes:

[1] Halley's Comet comes close enough to Earth to be visible about every 75-76 years.

[2] See, e.g., TIG Ins. Co. v. Monongahela Power Co., 437 Md. 372, 86 A.3d 1245 (2014); Sturdivant v. Maryland Dep't of Health & Mental Hygiene, 436 Md. 584, 84 A.3d 83 (2014); Sherrard v. Hull, 296 Md. 189, 460 A.2d 601 (1983); State ...


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