United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBRA L. TAYLOR,
TYLER D. EDWARDS, Defendant.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
pending before this Court is interested party State Farm
Insurance Company's ("State Farm") Motion to
Reconsider Order Granting Alternative Service. (ECF No. 11.)
State Farm petitions the Court to reconsider its order
allowing alternative service on State Farm in this action
against State Farm's insured, Defendant Tyler Edwards.
(Id.) Plaintiff did not file an opposition and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2018). For the reasons stated herein, State Farm's motion
to reconsider (ECF No. 11) is DENIED.
13, 2019, Plaintiff Debra Taylor filed suit against Defendant
Tyler Edwards on the basis of diversity jurisdiction,
asserting one count of negligence as a result of a motor
vehicle accident. (ECF No. 1.) On October 9, 2019, Plaintiff
petitioned the Court to allow service of process by
alternative method because Plaintiff was unsuccesful in
serving process on Defendant. (ECF No. 8.) Specifically,
Plaintiff made many unsuccesful attempts to locate and serve
the Defendant on May 20, 2019, May .23, 2019, June 1, 2019,
June 15, 2019, June 20, 2019, August 21, 2019, August 24,
2019, and August 26, 2019. (Id.) Plaintiff also
provided affidavits from, the process server detailing these
attempts (ECF Nos. 6-3, 8-3.) At the time of the accident,
the vehicle operated by Defendant was insured by State Farm.
(Id.) Plaintiff mailed a courtesy copy of the
Complaint to State Farm on May 13, 2019. (Id.) On
October 10, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiffs Motion for
Alternative Service on State Farm. (ECF No. 9.) State Farm
now seeks reconsideration of this Court's ruling. (ECF
unsuccesful litigant may move for the reconsideration of a
court's interlocutory order pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fayetteville Investors
v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1470 (4th
Cir. 1991). This Court's discretion to revise its
interlocutory orders "is not limitless." U.S.
Tobacco Coop. Inc. v. BigSoutb Wholesale of Virginia,
Inc., 899 F.3d 236, 256 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Carlson v. Boston Set. Corp., 856 F.3d 320, 325 (4th
Cir. 2017)). An interlocutory order may only be amended to
account for "(1) a subsequent trial producing
substantially different evidence; (2) a change in applicable
law; or (3) clear error causing manifest injustice."
Farm asserts that alternate service on it was prejudicial to
both Defendant and State Farm and that Plaintiff did not
demonstrate that the alternate method was "reasonably
calculated to give actual notice" to Defendant. (ECF No.
11 at 1-3.) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e)(1) provides
that an individual may be served "pursuant to the law of
the state in which the district court is located."
Maryland Rule 2-121(c) provides that, when presented with an
affidavit stating that good faith efforts have been made to
serve the defendant, "the court may order any other
means of service that it deems appropriate in the
circumstances and reasonably calculated to give actual
notice." To pass constitutional muster, such notice
"is that which is 'reasonably calculated, under all
the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the
pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to
present their objections.'" Elmco Props., Inc.
v. SecondNat'lFed. Sav. Asss'n, 94 F.3d 914,
920-21 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting Mullane v. Cent.
BanoverBank &TrustCo., 339 U.S. 306, 314, 70 S.Ct.
652, 94 L.Ed. 865 (1950)).
Court finds no basis to amend its ruling. Plaintiff provided
an affidavit stating that good faith efforts to serve the
defendant were unsuccesful. (ECF No. 8-3.) In addition,
Plaintiff asserted that the vehicle operated by the Defendant
at the time of the accident was insured by State Farm, and
provided the name of the adjuster assigned to the claim. (ECF
No. 8 at 1.) In Maryland, an insurer's duty to defend is
triggered by the existence of the potentiality of coverage.
Mutual Ben. Group v. Wise M. Bolt Co, Inc., 227
F.Supp.2d 469, 475 (D. Md. 2002) (citing Bmhawn v.
Transamerica Ins. Co., 216 Md. 396, 407-08, 347 A.2d 842
(1975)). Here, Plaintiff alleges and State Farm concedes,
that it is the liability insurance carrier for Defendant.
(ECF No. 8; ECF No. 11 ¶ 3.) It is certainly reasonable
to believe that serving process on Defendant's insurer
assigned to the claim for which Plaintiff bases this suit
would provide actual notice to Defendant.
for the foregoing reasons, it is this 19th day of December,
2019, ORDERED that:
State Farm's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF ...