United States District Court, D. Maryland
DAVID COPPERTHITE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Declaratory Judgment action. Plaintiff has filed a motion for
summary judgment ("Plaintiffs Motion") (ECF No.
38). Defendant has filed a response (ECF No. 44), and
Plaintiff has filed a reply (ECF No. 47). All filings are
timely and the motions are ripe for review. After considering
Plaintiffs Motion and the responses thereto, the Court finds
that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6
(D.Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment.
declaratory judgment action arises out of lead paint
litigation in Baltimore City Circuit Court filed against
Defendant Stanley Rochkind and others ("Defendants"
or "Rochkind Insureds"). ECF No. 1 at 3, ¶ 2
(Shakia Blue v. Best Investments. Inc., et al., No.
24-C-17-003191 LP (the "Underlying Suit")).
Rochkind and Defendants were landowners who managed, owned,
and supervised certain rental properties where the injured
plaintiff alleged she suffered lead poisoning over a period
of time. Id. ¶¶ 14-18. Plaintiff seeks a
declaration regarding its contractual obligations to
Defendants related to claims filed against Defendants by the
injured plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 18-21.
issued a policy which provided excess personal liability
coverage for the Rochkind Insureds between June 13, 1988
until the date of cancellation, June 13, 2000. Id.
¶ 18. An addendum excluding lead paint injuries was
executed June 13, 1999. Id. In this action.
Plaintiff argues that if there is coverage for the injuries,
the Rochkind Insureds are responsible for a pro rata share of
any award of damages. ECF No. 38-1 at 3. Defendants argue
that there is in fact coverage and that Allstate is
responsible for damages up to and including the policy
limits. ECF No. 44 at 7. The crux of this motion is whether
Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v.
Roberts, 668 F.3d 106 (4th Cir. 2012), applies to the
language of the contract. If Plaintiff is correct and
Roberts does apply, the Rochkind Insureds will be
responsible for a portion of the damages. If Defendants are
successful in convincing the Court Roberts is
inapplicable. Plaintiff will be responsible for any damages
up to the policy limits.
to Rule 56, a movant is entitled to summary judgment where
the pleadings. depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Supreme Court has clarified
that not every factual dispute will defeat a motion for
summary judgment but rather, there must be a genuine issue of
material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247- 48 (1986) (“[T]he mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties will
not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact."
(emphasis in original)). An issue of fact is material if,
under the substantive law of the case, resolution of the
factual dispute could affect the outcome. Id. at
248. There is a genuine issue as to material fact "if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Id; see Dulaney v.
Packaging Corp. of Am., 673 F.3d 323, 330 (4th Cir.
2012). On the other hand, if after the court has drawn all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party,
"the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50
(internal citations omitted).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
either establishing that no genuine issue of material fact
exists or that a material fact essential to the
non-movant"s claim is absent. Celotex Corp.,
All U.S. at 322-24. Once the movant has met its burden, the
onus is on the non-movant to establish that there is a
genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In
order to meet this burden, the non-movant "may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of [its]
pleadings." but must instead "set forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323 n.3 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view
the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also
United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)
("On summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from
the underlying facts contained in such materials must be
viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion."). At the same time, the court also must abide
by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to
prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial." Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774. 778-79 (4th
federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction must apply
the choice of law rules of the state in which it sits.
See Seabulk Offshore, Ltd. v. Am. Home Assurance
Co., 377 F.3d 408, 418-19 (4th Cir. 2004). The parties
agree that Maryland law applies.
Maryland, when interpreting a contract, courts
'"seek to ascertain and effectuate the intention of
the contracting parties." Phoenix Servs. Ltd.
P'ship v. Johns Hopkins Hosp., 167 Md.App. 327, 391
(2006) (citation omitted). In ascertaining the parties'
intent. Maryland adheres to the objective theory of contract
interpretation. See Dumbarton Improvement Ass'n. Inc.
v. Druid Ridge Cemetery Co., 434 Md. 37, 51 (2013). The
objective theory of contract interpretation requires that a
must first determine from the language of the agreement
itself what a reasonable person in the position of the
parties would have meant at the time it was effectuated. In
addition, when the language of the contract is plain and
unambiguous there is no room for construction, and a court
must presume that the parties meant what they expressed. In
these circumstances, the true test of what is meant is not
what the parties to the contract intended it to mean, but
what a reasonable person in the position of the parties would
have thought it meant.
Myers v. Kayhoe,
391 Md. 188, 198 (2006) (quoting
Dennis v. Fire & Police Emps. Ret. Sys., 390 Md.
639, 656-57 (2006)) (internal ...