United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
BOONE, et al. Plaintiffs,
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.
HONORABLE GINA L. SIMMS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before this Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Warren L. Steger, III (“Steger”), and
the responses thereto. (ECF Nos. 27, 30, 31 and 32). Having
reviewed the submissions, this Court finds that the issues
having been fully briefed and that a hearing is not
necessary. Local Rule (L.R.) 105.6. For the reasons set forth
more fully below, Defendant Steger's motion is DENIED.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Tiffany Boone and her minor daughter brought this action to
recover damages arising out of vehicle collision involving a
car driven by Defendant Steger and a Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”) MetroAccess van
driven by an employee of Defendant WMATA. (ECF No. 6-1).
Plaintiffs were passengers on board the MetroAccess van
(“Metro van”) when the collision occurred.
Plaintiffs assert that either Steger were negligent (Count
I), or alternatively that WMATA was negligent (Count II),
which caused them to suffer physical injury and emotional
distress (Id.). WMATA filed a cross-claim for
contribution and indemnity against Steger, alleging that he
“caused and/or contributed to bringing about” the
accident. (ECF No. 8, p. 2). Steger also filed a cross-claim
against WMATA, seeking contribution based on the fact that
WMATA was the “primary and active negligent
party.” (ECF No. 13, p. 1). Steger has moved for
summary judgment. In essence, Steger asserts that WMATA's
driver had an obligation to yield to oncoming traffic, and by
failing to do so, WMATA is “negligent per
se.” (ECF No. 27-1, p. 6).
Steger submitted a copy of the surveillance video taken from
the MetroAccess van at the time of the incident (ECF No.
27-4, “WMATA Dashcam”). The undisputed facts are as
follows. In 2015,  Plaintiffs Boone, who is
wheelchair-dependent, and her daughter were passengers aboard
a MetroAccess van that was proceeding on Old Georgetown Road
towards Westlake Drive in Rockville, Maryland. (ECF No. 27-2,
Pl. T. Boone Depo., pp. 23, 30). As the MetroAccess van
travelled toward its destination, Steger was traveling in the
opposite “southbound” direction in the far-right
lane of Old Georgetown Road, heading from the Kennedy Shriver
Aquatic Center. (ECF No. 27-3, Def. Steger Depo., pp. 7-8).
The MetroAccess van approached the intersection of Old
Georgetown Road and Tuckerman Lane in the far-left turn lane
in order to make the left turn at the intersection. (ECF No.
27-4). The MetroAccess van reached the intersection while the
traffic light continued to display a green signal. (Id.
at 0:00-0:05). The video reflects that, in seeking to
make the left turn, the MetroAccess van accelerated from
approximately 6 miles per hour to 17 miles per hour.
(Id. at 0:05). In making the left turn, the Metro
van crossed the southbound lanes in front of the vehicle
driven by Steger. (ECF No. 27-3, p. 11). Steger's vehicle
and the Metro van collided.
following facts are unrefuted: According to Steger, he was
traveling at “roughly the speed limit or less, ”
40 miles per hour, and his distance from the intersection
prior to seeing the Metro van was “several car
lengths.” (ECF 27-3, Def. Steger Depo., pp. 8-10;
STANDARD OF REVIEW
shall grant summary judgement if a movant demonstrates that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material
facts” such that the movant “is entitled to
judgement as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
burden rests with the moving party to demonstrate the absence
of any genuine dispute of material fact. Adickes v. S.H.
Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Where
sufficient evidence exists for a reasonable jury to render a
verdict in favor of the non-moving party, then a genuine
dispute of material fact exists, and summary judgement should
not be granted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In addition, the facts and the
inferences drawn from the facts must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Where the record
includes a videotape, and the parties disagree as to certain
facts, the Supreme Court permits a district court to review
that evidence. Id. at 379-81. However, if a video is
unclear or ambiguous, the trial court must adopt the
non-movant's version of the facts. Id.
Steger avers that he is entitled to summary judgment as to
WMATA's liability “[g]iven the applicable
law” regarding left-hand turns, this Court should find
that as a matter of law WMATA is negligent per se.
(ECF No. 27-1, p. 7). In response, Plaintiffs agrees that
this Court should enter summary judgment in Steger's
favor. WMATA contends that Steger's Motion should be
denied because the Plaintiffs bear the “burden of proof
and the weight and value of the evidence ae matters solely
for the jury, ” as well as, that the motion is
premature. (ECF No. 31, p. 2).
law provides that any motorist, common carrier or not, who
intends to make a left turn at an intersection shall
“yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle that is
approaching from the opposite direction and is in the
intersection or so near to it as to be an immediate
danger.” Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 21-402(a)
to Maryland law a “violation of a statute or ordinance
is evidence of negligence, not negligence per
se.” Harris v. United States, No.
WMN-08-2266, 2009 WL 3100595, at *2 (D.Md. Sept. 23, 2019)
(citing Polakoff v. Turner, 385 Md. 467, 869 A.2d
837, 844-45 (Md. 2005)) (emphasis supplied); see also
Hart v. A.C.E. Taxi, 442 F.Supp.2d 268, 272 (denying
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment motion on the
grounds that “Maryland does not recognize the doctrine
of negligence per se.”). To establish a prima
facie case of negligence based on a statutory violation,
“a plaintiff must show: 1) the violation of a statute
designed to protect a specific class of persons; 2) that
plaintiff is a member of this class of persons; 3) that the
harm suffered by plaintiff is of the type that the statute
was intended to protect against; and 4) that the violation
was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's
injuries.” Hart, 442 F.Supp.2d at 270.
considering the evidence in the light most favorable to WMATA
as the non-moving party, there are material disputes of fact.
It is not disputed that the MetroAccess van attempted to make
a left turn at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and
Tuckerman Lane. Nor is it disputed that Steger's vehicle
was traveling from the opposite “southbound”
direction in the far-right lane of Old Georgetown Road.
Similarly, it is not disputed that Steger's car was the
favored vehicle. From the video, this Court is unable to
determine exactly how far or near Steger was from the
intersection such that one can conclude that WMATA's
left-hand turn was done in the face of “immediate
danger.” Compare Myers v. Bright, 327 Md. 395,
609 A.2d 1182, 1185 (Md. 1992) (explaining that
“turning blindly into oncoming traffic is negligent
regardless of what that traffic is doing”) with
Meldrum v. Kellam Distrib. Co., 211 Md. 504, 128 A.2d
400, 403 (Md. 1957) (finding vehicle approaching intersection
within five seconds as “an immediate hazard”).
Moreover, the video does not show what is occurring on
Steger's side of the intersection. Thus, the Court cannot
determine whether WMATA failed to properly yield to Steger,
the favored driver, or whether Steger proceeded through the
intersection disregarding an apparent danger. Dean v.
Redmiles, 280 Md. 137, 374 A.2d 329, 336 (Md. 1977).
even where a moving party makes out a prima facie case of
negligence based on a statutory violation, that party is not
entitled to summary judgement on the issue of liability.
Rather, making out a prima facie case of negligence,
“merely warrants the ...