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Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Mason

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 9, 2018

NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARON MASON, RAYMOND MASON, SHANNON MASON, KENNETH KELLEY, JR., ROBERT HALL III, JANE A. GREEN as Personal Representative of the Estate of Dominique Green, HADDASSAH BELLE BOYKIN, HADDASSAH BELLE BOYKIN as Personal Representative of Hassan Ismila Boykin, AMADOU DOUDOU BA as Personal Representative of the Estate of Khadika Ba, [1] THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF TYPHANI WILKERSON and THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF TAMEIKA CURTIS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE P. CHUANG, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company ("Nationwide)) has brought this declaratory judgment action under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, seeking a judicial determination whether Defendants Shannon Mason and Kenneth Kelley, Jr. are entitled to insurance coverage for an automobile accident on October 10, 2014 pursuant to two insurance policies issued by Nationwide. Having reviewed the submitted materials, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2014, Nationwide issued two automobile insurance policies to Sharon Mason and Raymond Mason: Policy Number 5219 A 996370 ("Policy 1") and Policy Number 5219 A 996371 ("Policy 2") (collectively, "the Policies"). Both policies listed the insured drivers as Raymond R. Mason and Sharon F. Mason and the policy period as July 18, 2014 to January 18, 2015. Policy 1 covered a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe, and a 1985 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck. Policy 2 covered a 2012 Chevrolet Traverse and a 1992 Lincoln Town Car.

         On October 10, 2014, there was a two-car accident ("the Accident") on Livingston Road in Prince George's County, Maryland involving a 2000 Mercedes S430 ("the Mercedes",, driven by Defendant Kelley, which resulted in the deaths of Dominique Green, Hassan Boykin, Khadija Shahadah Ba, Typhani Wilkerson, and Tameika Curtis and injuries to Robert Hall III and Haddassah Belle Boykin. All of these individuals, or their personal representatives, are named as Defendants in this action. At the time of the accident, the Mercedes was registered in the name of Shannon Mason, the son of Sharon and Raymond Mason. All three of these individuals are also named as Defendants in this action. Shannon Mason was not a passenger in the Mercedes at the time of the accident and had never even seen the Mercedes.

         According to Nationwide, "one or more individuals listed as defendants in this lawsuit" have filed lawsuits or claims "against Kenneth Kelley and/or Shannon Mason in connection with the subject automobile accident." Mot. Summ. J. at 2, ECF No. 76. Nationwide alleges that it has been called upon to pay benefits for these "claims, causes of action, expenses, damages, judgments and, or, settlements that might be rendered" as a result of the car accident. Compl. 34, ECF NO.1. Nationwide has therefore filed this case.

         As of November 15, 2016, all Defendants in this case had been served. On March 1, 2017, the Clerk of the Court entered a default against Defendants Jane A. Green, Robert Hall III, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Tameika Curtis, and the Personal Representative of the Estate of Typhani Wilkerson. Although Defendants Sharon Mason, Raymond Mason, Shannon Mason, and Kelley have neither filed Answers to the Complaint nor had attorneys enter appearances on their behalf, Nationwide has not sought a default against them. The remaining Defendants, Haddassah Belle Boykin (in her personal capacity and as the Personal Representative of Hassan Boykin) and Amadou Doudou Ba, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Khadija Shahadah Ba, have filed Answers and had counsel appear on their behalf, but neither has opposed the pending Motion. In fact, Boykin has filed a Notice stating that she does not oppose the Motion. All Defendants, including those against whom a default has been entered, received notice of the pending Motion.

         DISCUSSION

         Nationwide seeks a declaratory judgment stating that neither Policy 1 nor Policy 2 provides coverage for the Accident. Nationwide also requests that the declaratory judgment state that it has no duty to defend or indemnify Shannon Mason or Kelley from claims arising from the Accident. Because the only reason Nationwide would have a duty to defend or indemnify Shannon Mason or Kelley would be if Policy 1 or Policy 2 provided coverage for the Accident, the Court does not need to conduct a separate inquiry for that request.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Id. at 248-49.

         The Declaratory Judgment Act states, "In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction, ... any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought." 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) (2012). A federal court may exercise jurisdiction over a declaratory judgment action when:

(1) The complaint alleges an actual controversy between the parties of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant issuance of a declaratory judgment;
(2) The court possesses an independent basis for jurisdiction over the parties (e.g., federal question or ...

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