United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Declaratory Judgment action arises out of an insurance
coverage dispute related to a significant automobile accident
that occurred on January 14, 2016. Pending before the Court
are the parties' cross Motions for Summary Judgment. ECF
Nos. 18 & 20. No. hearing is necessary. See Loc.
R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons,
Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff Erie Insurance Exchange's
Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 18, will be
granted, and Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant XL Specialty
Insurance Company's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment,
ECF No. 20, will be denied.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper if there are no issues of material fact
and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Francis v. Booz,
Allen & Hamilton, Inc., 452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir.
2006). A material fact is one that “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183
(4th Cir.2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, (1986)). A dispute of material
fact is only “genuine” if sufficient evidence
favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to
return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248-49. However, the nonmoving party “cannot create
a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or
the building of one inference upon another.” Beale
v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir.1985). The Court
may rely on only facts supported in the record, not simply
assertions in the pleadings, to fulfill its
“affirmative obligation . . . to prevent
‘factually unsupported claims or defenses' from
proceeding to trial.” Felty v. Graves-Humphreys
Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir.1987). When ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in [her] favor.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255.
for summary judgment require that the Court consider
“each motion separately on its own merits to determine
whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter
of law.” Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516,
523 (4th Cir. 2003). “The Court must deny both motions
if it finds there is a genuine issue of material fact,
‘but if there is no genuine issue and one or the other
party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law, the court
will render judgment.'” Wallace v. Paulos,
2009 WL 3216622 at *4 (D. Md. Sept. 29, 2009) (citation
January 14, 2016, Juan Sanchez, an employee of R&R
Contracting Utilities Inc. (R&R), ECF No. 18-11 at 3, was
operating a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado (the Vehicle) when he
ran through a red light and collided with a vehicle operated
by Angela Jefferson. ECF No. 18-5. The accident involved a
total of nine vehicles and resulted in fatal injuries to
Jefferson and injuries to several drivers and occupants of
other vehicles as well as property damage claims.
Id. The Vehicle was owned by IPR Northeast, LLC
(IPR). ECF No. 18-4 ¶ 11.
is a small business that provides labor to other companies in
need of additional manpower to perform specific work. ECF No.
18-9 at 16:16-17:1, 28:14-29:21. IPR is one of the general
contractors for whom R&R provides workers. ECF No. 18-6
at 2. At the time of the accident, Sanchez performed work on
R&R's behalf exclusively for IPR. ECF No. 18-6 at 2;
ECF No. 18-10 at 2; ECF No. 18-11 at 3.
February 2015, Sanchez became a “project engineer,
” a position that required him to travel between
multiple IPR jobsites. ECF No. 18-6 at 2; ECF No. 18-13 at
12:5-14; ECF No. 18-8 at 40:11-18; id. at 194:8-11.
As a result, he received authorization and began driving an
IPR vehicle. ECF No. 18-7 at 41:1-5. Whenever he drove an IPR
vehicle, he drove the 2006 Chevrolet Silverado-the Vehicle
that he was driving at the time of the 2016 accident. ECF No.
18-8 at 196:2. Although the Vehicle was assigned to others as
well, it was the only IPR vehicle that Sanchez drove. ECF No.
18-7 at 21:14-22:11, 34:5-15. There were two different pickup
trucks, including the Vehicle, that were primarily used for
the contract Sanchez managed, and if IPR needed to supply a
crew foreman with a vehicle, then the Vehicle Sanchez used
could be “reallocated to a different person as the
operations manager saw fit.” Id. at 34:5-15.
Sanchez did not use the Vehicle for “personal
purposes” except that he could drive the Vehicle home
as a convenience if he was required to work late; he would
then return the Vehicle to the IPR office the next morning.
ECF No. 18-8 at 61:1-18; 195:19-196:1. Sanchez drove the
Vehicle home a “few days a week” and sometimes on
the weekend. Id. at 233:6-16.
January 14, 2016, Sanchez was driving the Vehicle to an IPR
jobsite when the accident occurred. Id. at 60:2-22.
The Vehicle was insured under a policy issued to IPR by
Plaintiff XL Specialty Insurance Company (XL Specialty). ECF
No. 18-5 at 2. Separately, Defendant Erie Insurance Exchange
(Erie) issued an insurance policy to Sanchez's employer,
R&R. The Erie policy provides primary insurance for
“any owned auto.” ECF No. 18-14 at 8. But it
provides only excess insurance for autos it insures that are
not owned. Id. at 12. Pursuant to the Erie Policy,
owned autos include:
b. 2) any auto not owned by, furnished or available for the
regular use* of, and while driven by:
b) your active partner and spouse residing
in the same household;
c) your active executive officer and spouse
residing in the ...