United States District Court, D. Maryland
AMERICAN SAFETY INDEMNITY CO.
SHORE WAY, INC., ET AL.
FREDERICK MOTZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Safety Indemnity Company instituted this action against Shore
Way, Inc., T/A Domino's Pizza, and Les Buzz, T/A
Domino's Pizza seeking reimbursement from defendants of
all amounts paid by American Safety to defend and settle an
action instituted against defendants in the Circuit Court for
Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Both sides have moved for
summary judgment. American Safety's motion will be
granted, and defendants' motion will be denied.
Standard issued an automobile insurance policy to defendants.
A delivery driver named Annmarie McLemore was involved in an
accident on May 10, 2013 with Michael Thomas Vodak. On
December 11, 2014, Vodak brought suit against defendants in
the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County, Maryland.
American Standard accepted the defense of its insured in the
Vodak action under a reservation of rights.
policy issued by American Standard to defendants contained an
endorsement that expressly provided that "This
Endorsement Changes the Policy. Please read it
carefully." It provided as follows:
Named Insured is a Franchise of Domino's Pizza and agrees
to comply with all driver eligibility criteria required by
the Franchisor. A copy of the Franchisor's standards must
be on file with the Company. Failure to comply with the
Franchisor's guidelines may void coverage under this
I have read this SPECIAL RESTRICTION OF COVERAGE in its
entirety and agree on behalf of all insured to comply with
all of its terms and conditions.
endorsement is signed by Andy Kent as an insured or officer
of insured entity.
drivers' standards (which is attached to the policy)
provided that "To be employed as a Team Member who is
authorized to drive by Domino's Pizza, the applicant or
Team Member's MVR [motor vehicle record] must
meet the following criteria: . . . No more than two (2)
violations in the past two (2) years (e.g., speeding, failure
to yield, fail to obey traffic signal/device, fail to stop,
improper turn, improper lane change, careless driving, follow
too close, operator not restrained by safety belt).
her deposition held in July 2015, American Standard learned
that McLemore admitted to having committed to three
violations within the two-year period immediately prior to
her accident with Vodak: failure to yield right of way, on
January 12, 2012, speeding, on February 19, 2012, and using
hand-held cell while driving, on May 9, 2013.
January 15, 2016, the Vodak was settled for $385,
000. American Standard paid that sum to Vodak. The settlement
agreement referenced this litigation that had been filed on
October 14, 2015. Shore Way, Inc. and Les Buzz, LLC, were
parties to the settlement agreement.
Maryland law, which indisputably is applicable to this
action, insurance policies are interpreted in the same manner
as contracts generally. See Sullins v. Allstate Ins.
Co, 667 A.2d 617, 619 (Md. 1995); National Cas. Co.
v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 415 F.Supp.2d 596, 601 (D. Md.
2006). Maryland adheres to the principle that where the
language reported in a contract is unambiguous, a court shall
give effect to its plain meaning. See Auction &
Estate Representatives, Inc. v. Ashton, 731 A.2d 441,
444-45 (Md. 1999).
assert that the insurance policy is ambiguous because it uses
successively, in the endorsement in question, the terms
"driver eligibility criteria, "
"Franchisor's standards, " and
"Franchisor's guidelines." However, the
endorsement makes ...