Tran v. Carr ( 2010 )


Menu:
  •                        UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
                           FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
    _______________________________________
                                            )
    THOMAS TRAN ex rel.                     )
    ESTATE OF TUYET THI LE,                 )
                                            )
                      Plaintiff,            )
                                            )
                v.                          ) Civil Action No. 08-2119 (RBW)
                                            )
    ANTHONY CARR, et al.,                   )
                                            )
                      Defendants.           )
    _______________________________________)
    
                                          MEMORANDUM OPINION
    
            The plaintiff, Thomas Tran, the personal representative of the estate of Tuyet Thi Le
    
    (“Ms. Le”), filed this action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”)
    
    against Anthony Carr (“Mr. Carr”), the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (the
    
    “Pa. Insurance Co.”), and the American International Group (the “AI Group”), seeking damages
    
    and insurance policy benefits arising from an automobile accident that occurred in November
    
    2007. See generally Notice of Removal (Plaintiff’s Complaint for Negligence and Declaratory
    
    Judgment (“Compl.”)). The case was removed to this Court, id., and thereafter the plaintiff
    
    stipulated to the dismissal of Mr. Carr. Docket Entry Number 20 (Stipulation of Partial
    
    Dismissal). Currently before the Court are the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment,
    
    and the Pa. Insurance Co.’s and the AI Group’s (collectively, the “defendants”) cross-motion for
    
    summary judgment.1 After considering the parties’ written submissions and the record before it,
    
    
    1
      The Court also considered the following papers in resolving the parties’ motions: (1) Plaintiff Thomas Tran’s
    Memorandum of Law in Support of His Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Pl.’s Mem.”) (this Memorandum
    contains a statement of undisputed facts); (2) Plaintiff Thomas Tran’s Memorandum of Law in Support of
    Opposition to Defendants’ Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and American International Group
    Inc.’s Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pl.’s Opp’n”); (3) Plaintiff Thomas Tran’s Reply to Defendants Insurance
    Company of the State of Pennsylvania and American International Group, Inc.’s Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for
                                                                                                        (continued…)
    for the reasons set forth below the Court must deny the plaintiff’s motion and grant summary
    
    judgment to the defendants.
    
                                                 I. BACKGROUND
    
            The facts giving rise to this lawsuit are not in dispute. On November 15, 2007, an
    
    automobile driven by Mr. Carr struck and killed Ms. Le as she was crossing the street as a
    
    pedestrian at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Ellicot Street in the District of
    
    Columbia. Pl.’s Mem. at 1-2. Mr. Carr had automobile insurance with another insurance
    
    company, and that company eventually paid the plaintiff the full policy limit of $25,000. Id. at 3.
    
            At the time of the accident, Ms. Le was living with her daughter, Khanh Mai Do (“Ms.
    
    Do”), who was employed as the deputy defense attaché at the Embassy of Vietnam (the
    
    “Embassy”). Id. at 2. The defendants provided automobile insurance to the Embassy. Defs.’
    
    Stmt. ¶ 1. See generally Defs.’ Mem., Exhibit (“Ex.”) A (Certificate of Liability Insurance) (the
    
    “Policy”).2 The Policy covered two automobiles, a 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis and a 2006
    
    Toyota Sienna, Defs.’ Stmt. ¶ 1, which Ms. Do had access to as part of her employment, Pl.’s
    
    Mem. at 2. Significantly, neither car was involved in the accident. Defs.’ Stmt. ¶ 7; Notice of
    
    Removal (Compl. ¶ 7).
    
    
    
    (. . . continued)
    Summary Judgment (“Pl.’s Reply”); (4) Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute in Support of Defendants’
    Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and American International Group, Inc.’s Motion for Summary
    Judgment (“Defs.’ Stmt.”); (5) Memorandum of Points and Authority in Support of Defendants’ Insurance Company
    of the State of Pennsylvania and American International Group, Inc.’s Motion for Summary Judg[]ment (“Defs.’
    Mem.”); and (6) Memorandum of Points and Authority in Support of Defendants’ Insurance Company of the State
    of Pennsylvania and American International Group, Inc.’s Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judg[]ment
    (“Defs.’ Opp’n”). The defendant has not numbered the pages of his briefs, see Defs.’ Mem.; Defs.’ Opp’n, and the
    Court will therefore cite to these documents as if the pages were numbered in sequential order.
    2
      Both parties have submitted copies of the Policy as attachments to their filings. See Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A; Pl.’s
    Mem., Ex. 1. Neither party, however, has numbered the pages of the Policy. The Court notes that the Policy is
    sixteen pages long, and when citing to the Policy in this Memorandum Opinion the Court will refer to the pages as if
    they had been numbered in sequential order.
    
    
    
                                                             2
              In relevant part, the Policy provides for $100,000 in uninsured motorist benefits. Defs.’
    
    Mem., Ex. A, at 1. According to the Policy,
    
                       The [Pa. Insurance Co.] will pay all sums which the insured or his
                       legal representative shall be legally entitled to recover as damages
                       from the owner or operator of an uninsured automobile because of
                       bodily injury or property damage sustained by the insured, caused
                       by accident and arising out of ownership, maintenance or use of
                       such uninsured automobiles.[3]
    
    Id. at 13. The term “insured” is not defined in the uninsured motorist provision, see id. however,
    
    it is defined elsewhere in the Policy, in part, as “the named insured and resident relatives legally
    
    responsible for the use thereof, provided the actual use of the automobile is by the named insured
    
    or with his permission. The insurance with respect to any person or organization other than the
    
    named insured does not apply.” Id. at 7.
    
              On the page of the Policy entitled “Certificate of Liability Insurance,” the entity listed as
    
    the “insured” is the “Embassy of Vietnam Defense Office.” Id. at 1. Several pages later, on the
    
    renewal declarations page for the “Diplomat Auto Program,” the “Named Insured” is designated
    
    as the “Vietnam Defense Attache.”4 Id. at 4. Ms. Do’s name appears in the Policy in two places:
    
    she is named as one of the four “Primary Driver[s]” of the 2003 Grand Marquis, id. at 5, and she
    
    is listed under the heading “Driver Information,” which includes “drivers who frequently use
    
    3
        The term “uninsured automobile” is defined as follows:
    
                       an automobile with respect to the ownership, maintenance or use of which there
                       is, in at least the amounts specified by the financial responsibility law of the
                       state in which the insured automobile is principally garaged, no bodily injury
                       and property damage liability bond, or insurance policy applicable at the time of
                       the accident with respect to any person or organization legally responsible for
                       the use of such automobile, or with respect to which there is a bodily injury or
                       property damage liability bond or insurance policy applicable at the time of the
                       accident but the company writing the same denies coverage thereunder.
    
    Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 13.
    4
     According to the plaintiff, the defense attaché for the Embassy at the time of the accident was Toan Nguyen. Pl.’s
    Opp’n at 4.
    
    
    
                                                                 3
    [their] own vehicles.” Id. at 2. Ms. Le’s name does not appear anywhere in the Policy. See id.
    
    at 1-16.
    
            As noted earlier, the plaintiff commenced this lawsuit in the Superior Court seeking
    
    damages of one million dollars from Mr. Carr, Notice of Removal (Compl. ¶¶ 8-12),5 and a
    
    declaratory judgment that the defendants owe him $100,000 pursuant to the uninsured motorist
    
    provision in the Policy. Id. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-19). The defendants subsequently removed the case
    
    to this Court, invoking 28 U.S.C. § 1364 (2006), a direct action statute granting federal district
    
    courts exclusive jurisdiction in any civil action, regardless of the amount in controversy, filed by
    
    any person against an insurer who by contract insures a member of a diplomatic mission. Notice
    
    of Removal ¶ 5; see 28 U.S.C. § 1364(a) (“The district courts shall have original and exclusive
    
    jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy, of any civil action commenced by any
    
    person against an insurer who by contract has insured an individual, who is, or was at the time of
    
    the tortious act or omission, a member of a mission (within the meaning of section 2(3) of the
    
    Diplomatic Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 254a(3))) or a member of the family of such a member of a
    
    mission . . . .”).6 The defendants admit issuing the Policy to the Embassy, but deny that Ms. Do
    
    was a named insured and further deny that the insurance coverage extended to Ms. Le. See
    
    Notice of Removal (Answer of Defendants Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and
    
    American International Group, Inc. ¶ 14). Both parties now seek summary judgment.
    
    
    5
      On August 31, 2009, the parties agreed to voluntarily dismiss the case against Mr. Carr. Docket Entry Number 20
    (Stipulation of Partial Dismissal).
    6
       22 U.S.C.§ 254a(3), the provision of the Diplomatic Relations Act referenced in 28 U.S.C. § 1364(a), explains
    that “the term ‘mission’ includes missions within the meaning of the Vienna Convention and any missions
    representing foreign governments, individually or collectively, which are extended the same privileges and
    immunities, pursuant to law, as are enjoyed by missions under the Vienna Convention.” See 22 U.S.C. § 254a(3).
    In turn, Article 1 of the Vienna Convention defines “members of a mission” as “the head of the mission and the
    members of the staff of the mission.” Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Optional Protocol on
    Disputes art. 1, Apr. 18, 1961, 23 U.S.T. 3227, 
    1972 WL 122692
    .
    
    
    
                                                            4
                                      II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
    
             Courts will grant a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
    
    56(c) if “the pleadings, depositions, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
    
    affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is
    
    entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). When ruling on a motion for
    
    summary judgment, courts must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
    
    party. Bayer v. U.S. Dep’t of Treasury, 
    956 F.2d 330
    , 333 (D.C. Cir. 1992). The nonmoving
    
    party, however, cannot rely on “mere allegations or denials . . . , but . . . must set forth specific
    
    facts showing that there [are] genuine issue[s] for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 
    477 U.S. 242
    , 248 (1986) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Under Rule 56, “if a party
    
    fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case and on which that party
    
    will bear the burden of proof at trial,” summary judgment is warranted. Hazward v. Runyon, 
    14 F. Supp. 2d 120
    , 122 (D.D.C. 1998) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 
    477 U.S. 317
    , 322 (1986).
    
    The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of establishing the absence of
    
    evidence that supports the non-moving party’s case. Id. In considering a motion for summary
    
    judgment, “the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it
    
    may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
    
    Prods. Inc., 
    530 U.S. 133
    , 150 (2000) (citations omitted). Finally, “when ruling on cross-
    
    motions for summary judgment, the court shall grant summary judgment only if one of the
    
    moving parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law upon material facts that are not
    
    genuinely in dispute.” Teva Pharm. Indus. Ltd. v. Food & Drug Admin., 
    355 F. Supp. 2d 111
    ,
    
    116 (D.D.C. 2004) (quoting Barr Labs., Inc. v. Thompson, 
    238 F. Supp. 2d
    , 236, 244 (D.D.C.
    
    2002).
    
    
    
    
                                                       5
                                               III. LEGAL ANALYSIS
    
             The central issue for the Court is whether Ms. Le qualifies as an insured under the Policy.
    
    The plaintiff argues that because the Policy lists Ms. Do as a driver in two places, and because a
    
    column adjacent to one of those listings “has a category for ‘Additional Insured [and] Loss
    
    Payee,” Ms. Do therefore qualifies as a named insured. Pl.’s Mem. at 5; see also Defs.’ Mem.,
    
    Ex. A at 5. The plaintiff then claims that because the Policy defines the term “insured” in part as
    
    “the insured and resident relatives,” Ms. Do’s status as an insured therefore extends to her
    
    mother, Ms. Le. Pl.’s Mem. at 5-6. According to the plaintiff, interpreting the Policy in this
    
    fashion would be “consistent with the reasonable expectations of the Defense Attaché, the
    
    purchaser of the . . . [P]olicy,” id. at 7, and fulfill “the important [public] policy function of
    
    protecting innocent victims . . . against uninsured motorists.” Id. at 8.
    
             For their part, the defendants emphasize that “the only named ‘insured’” under the
    
    unambiguous language of the Policy is the Embassy. Defs.’ Mem. at 2 (emphasis in original).
    
    More specifically, the defendants assert that Ms. Do is not an “insured,” that Ms. Le was not a
    
    resident of the “insured’s” household, and that neither of the two cars covered by the Policy had
    
    any involvement in the underlying automobile accident.7 Id. Thus, the defendants maintain that
    
    Ms. Le “has no contact” to the Policy and therefore they do not owe benefits to the plaintiff. Id.
    
    (emphasis in original). Upon reviewing the Policy and the applicable legal authority, the Court
    
    finds the defendants’ position more convincing.
    
    
    
    
    7
      The defendants even claim that if Ms. Do was the pedestrian struck by Mr. Carr, the uninsured motorist coverage
    would still not extend to her because she is not an insured and was not operating either of the insured vehicles at the
    time of the accident. Defs.’ Mem. at 6 n.1.
    
    
    
    
                                                               6
             Under District of Columbia law,8 an “insurance policy is a contract between the insured
    
    and the insurer, and in construing it [the court] must first look to the language of the contract.”
    
    Travelers Indem. Co. of Ill. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union, 
    770 A.2d 978
    ,
    
    986 (D.C. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Cameron v. USAA Prop. & Cas.
    
    Ins. Co., 
    733 A.2d 965
    , 968 (D.C. 1999)). “[U]nless it is obvious that words which appear in an
    
    insurance contract are intended to be used in a technical connotation, they will be given the
    
    meaning which common speech imports.” Chase v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 
    780 A.2d 1123
    ,
    
    1127 (D.C. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Pa. Indem. Fire Corp. v. Aldridge,
    
    
    117 F.2d 774
    , 775 (D.C. Cir. 1941)).
    
             Whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law to be determined by the Court.
    
    Dist. No. 1-Pac. Coast Dist. v. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co., 
    782 A.2d 269
    , 274 (D.C. 2001)
    
    (citation omitted). “A contract is not ambiguous merely because the parties dispute its meaning”
    
    or could have drafted clearer terms. Id. (citations omitted); see Byrd v. Allstate Ins. Co., 
    622 A.2d 691
    , 693-94 (D.C. 1993) (“We need not deem a contract ambiguous merely because the
    
    parties do not agree on the interpretation of the contract provision in question.”). Similarly, a
    
    contract “is not ambiguous where the court can determine its meaning without any other guide
    
    than a knowledge of the simple facts on which, from the nature of language in general, its
    
    meaning depends.” Wash. Props., Inc., v. Chin, Inc., 
    760 A.2d 546
    , 548 (D.C. 2000) (internal
    
    quotation marks omitted) (quoting Holland v. Hannan, 
    456 A.2d 807
    , 815 (D.C. 1983)).
    
    8
      District of Columbia law applies in this case because the Policy does not contain a choice of law provision, see
    Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 1-16, and neither party discusses choice of law in their briefs and both rely only on District of
    Columbia cases for the applicable legal standards governing contract interpretation. See generally Pl.’s Mem.; Pl.’s
    Opp’n; Pl.’s Reply; Defs.’ Mem.; Defs.’ Opp’n. Both parties therefore assume that District of Columbia law
    applies, and “[t]he Court need not and does not question [their] assumptions on that point.” Davis v. Grant Park
    Nursing Home LP, 
    639 F. Supp. 2d
    . 60, 65 (D.D.C. 2009); see also CSX Transp., Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins.
    Co., 
    82 F.3d 478
    , 482-83 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (indicating that parties may waive choice of law arguments); In re Korean
    Air Lines Disaster of Sept. 1, 1983, 
    932 F.2d 1475
    , 1495 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (“Unlike jurisdictional issues, courts need
    not address choice of law questions sua sponte.”).
    
    
    
                                                              7
            On the other hand, a “contract is ambiguous when it is, or the provisions in controversy
    
    are, reasonably or fairly susceptible of different constructions or interpretations or of two or
    
    more different meanings.” Holland, 456 A.2d at 815 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
    
    Burbridge v. Howard Univ., 
    305 A.2d 245
    , 247 (D.C. 1973)). “If there is more than one
    
    interpretation that a reasonable person could ascribe to the contract, while viewing the contract in
    
    context of the circumstances surrounding its making, the contract is ambiguous.” Gryce v.
    
    Lavine, 
    675 A.2d 67
    , 69 (D.C. 1996) (citation omitted). With respect to ambiguous insurance
    
    policies, “if its language is reasonably open to two constructions, the one most favorable to the
    
    insured will be adopted[, and a]ny fair doubt as to the meaning of its own words should be
    
    resolved against the insurer.” Chase, 780 A.2d at 1127 (internal quotation marks omitted)
    
    (quoting Aldridge, 117 F.2d at 775); see also Smalls v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co, 
    678 A.2d 32
    , 35 (D.C. 1996) (“[C]ourts generally interpret any ambiguous provisions [in an insurance
    
    contract] in a manner consistent with the reasonable expectations of the purchaser of the
    
    policy.”) (citations omitted). With these principles in mind, the Court turns to the facts in this
    
    case.
    
            As noted earlier, in the section of the Policy that defines the term “[i]nsured,” the Policy
    
    provides that the “unqualified word ‘insured’ includes the named insured and resident relatives
    
    legally responsible for the use thereof, provided the actual use of the automobile is by the named
    
    insured or with his permission. The insurance with respect to any person or organization other
    
    than the named insured does not apply.” Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 7. As an initial point, the Court
    
    observes that by its plain terms, the scope of insurance coverage encompassed under the
    
    definition of the term “insured” applies only to the defendants’ obligation to “indemnify the
    
    insured for all sums which he [or she] shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because
    
    
    
    
                                                      8
    of bodily injury . . . [or] injury to or destruction of property . . . .” Id. Therefore, because the
    
    accident was caused by Mr. Carr and not the “insured” or any of the authorized drivers listed in
    
    the Policy, the definition of insured is simply not applicable under the facts in this case. See
    
    Pl.’s Mem. at 1-2. As a result, it follows that the Policy does not apply either, and for that reason
    
    the plaintiff’s claim must fail. See Travelers Idem. Co. of Ill., 770 A.2d at 986 (“[W]hen . . .
    
    contracts are clear and unambiguous, they will be enforced by the courts as written . . . .”
    
    (quoting Smalls, 678 A.2d at 35)).
    
            And even if the Court accepted the plaintiff’s contention that the Policy applies in this
    
    case, Pl.’s Mem. at 5-6, the outcome would still be the same. As discussed earlier, the
    
    “Certificate of Liability Insurance” specifically designates the “Embassy of Vietnam Defense
    
    Office” as the “insured,” Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 1, and similarly, on the renewal declaration page
    
    of the Policy, the “Vietnam Defense Attache” is identified as the “Named Insured[.]” Id. at 4. In
    
    contrast, both references to Ms. Do identify her only as either a frequent or one of the primary
    
    drivers of the two vehicles covered by the Policy, and neither reference to her uses the word
    
    “insured.” See Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 2, 5. Consequently, while Ms. Do would be insured while
    
    operating one of the two covered vehicles, it does not make her the named “insured” under the
    
    Policy. See, e.g., Lester v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 
    586 F. Supp. 2d 559
    , 572 (D.S.C. 2008)
    
    (“To the extent [p]laintiff argues he is entitled to [uninsured motorist] benefits simply because he
    
    was listed on the Policy as an ‘insured driver,’ the court disagrees.”). The fact Ms. Do’s name
    
    appears in a column adjacent to another column where the word “insured” appears, Defs.’ Mem.,
    
    Ex. A at 5, does not change this result.
    
            Accepting the plaintiff’s interpretation would lead to some peculiar consequences. For
    
    example, under the plaintiff’s theory, benefits would be payable under the Policy to any relative
    
    
    
    
                                                       9
    residing with a driver listed on the Policy who happened to be involved in an accident with an
    
    uninsured motorist, whether or not any of the cars covered by the Policy were involved. As the
    
    defendants correctly point out, Defs.’ Mem. at 6, according to the plaintiff’s logic, if Ms. Do had
    
    a daughter residing with her and she was hit by an uninsured motorist while crossing the street
    
    on a school trip to Utah, the child would be entitled to recover under the Policy. And
    
    remarkably, the plaintiff opines that such a result would be legally appropriate, stating that
    
    coverage of the daughter in that situation “would be nothing more than would be included in a
    
    standard personal automobile policy.” Pl.’s Opp’n at 6-7.
    
           But the plaintiff is mistaken, the major flaw with her supposition being that it
    
    conveniently omits key language from the Policy’s definition of “insured.” Specifically, the
    
    definition of insured refers to the “actual use of the automobile . . . by the named insured or with
    
    his [or her] permission.” Defs.’ Mem., Ex. A at 7 (emphasis added). The definition of “insured”
    
    is therefore linked to the “actual use” of one of the two automobiles covered by the Policy, and
    
    the plaintiff’s reasoning overlooks the critical fact that neither vehicle had any involvement in
    
    the accident in this case. See Pl.’s Mem. at 1-2. Indeed, by the plaintiff’s own admission, the
    
    only vehicle involved here was driven by Mr. Carr. Id. at 1; Notice of Removal (Compl. ¶ 7).
    
    Accordingly, the Court can not draw a connection between the accident and the scope of the
    
    coverage provided by the Policy, and may not rewrite the Policy in order to create one. See
    
    Chase 780 A.2d at 1127 (“[The Court] may not ‘indulge in forced constructions to create an
    
    obligation against the insurer.’” (quoting Cameron, 733 A.2d at 968)); see also Unfoldment, Inc.
    
    v. D.C. Contract Appeals Bd., 
    909 A.2d 204
    , 209 (D.C. 2006) (“A court must honor the
    
    intentions of the parties as reflected in the settled usage of the terms they accepted in the contract
    
    . . . and will not torture words to import ambiguity where the ordinary meaning leaves no room
    
    
    
    
                                                      10
    for ambiguity.”) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); 1010 Potomac Assocs. v.
    
    Grocery Mfrs. of Am., Inc., 
    485 A.2d 199
    , 205 (D.C. 1984) (“The writing must be interpreted as
    
    a whole, giving a reasonable, lawful, and effective meaning to all of its terms.”) (emphasis
    
    added) (citations omitted). Accordingly, the Court finds that Ms. Do is not an “insured” under
    
    the Policy, and therefore, it follows that her mother, Ms. Le, is not an “insured” either.
    
             Although there does not appear to be a District of Columbia case directly on point, the
    
    defendants point to a Maryland case, Schuler v. Erie Ins. Exch., 
    568 A.2d 873
     (Md. Ct. Spec.
    
    App.), cert. denied, 
    572 A.2d 183
     (Md. 1990), which they contend is factually analogous to the
    
    one here.9 See Defs.’ Mem. at 6-7. In that case, the plaintiff was standing next to his car, a 1983
    
    Camaro, when he was struck and injured by an automobile driven by an uninsured motorist.
    
    Schuler, 568 A.2d at 874. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s wife had automobile
    
    insurance providing for uninsured motorist coverage through a policy issued by her employer,
    
    Rainbow Hair Designers. Id. Rainbow Hair Designers was the named insured under the wife’s
    
    policy, id., and that policy covered five cars, including her 1980 BMW, an automobile which had
    
    no involvement in the accident with the plaintiff. Id. at 874, 875 n.2. After the accident, the
    
    plaintiff sought benefits under his wife’s policy, because her policy had a higher limit for
    
    uninsured motorist coverage than his policy. Id. at 875.
    
             In reviewing the language of the policy, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found
    
    that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover damages under his wife’s policy because he was “not
    
    covered as either the subscriber or as the named insured.” Id. at 877. The court noted that “if
    
    [the employer] had intended to include the owners of the five cars as named insureds it could
    
    have done so simply by including the named individuals under the named insured portion of the
    
    9
      The plaintiff argues Schuler is inapplicable because the language of the policy in that case is different and also
    because it deals with a commercial automobile policy rather than a diplomatic automobile policy. Pl.’s Reply at 1.
    
    
    
                                                             11
    declaration sheet in the policy.” Id. at 878. In addition, the court observed that even if the wife
    
    had “been struck while standing beside the [plaintiff’s] Camaro . . . the [insurance] policy”
    
    would still not provide coverage for her. Id. at 877.
    
           To the extent Schuler is deserving of “special attention,” Dennis v. Walker, 
    284 F. Supp. 413
    , 416 (D.D.C. 1968), the Court generally agrees with its conclusion. See Walker v.
    
    Independence Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 
    555 A.2d 1019
    , 1022 (D.C. 1989) (“In the absence of
    
    appellate or other authority in [the District of Columbia], the Court may be guided by Maryland
    
    common law.”); Napoleon v. Heard, 
    455 A.2d 901
    , 903 (D.C. 1983) (indicating that Maryland is
    
    “the source of the District’s common law and an especially persuasive authority when the
    
    District’s common law is silent”). Indeed, in this case, if the Embassy intended to make the
    
    drivers of the covered vehicles the “insureds,” it could have done so by designating them as such
    
    on the Policy, and that was not done.
    
           In any event, there is legal authority from other jurisdictions supporting the Court’s
    
    determination concerning Ms. Do, namely that “one listed in the policy, but only in the status of
    
    a driver of the vehicle, is not a named insured despite the fact that such person’s name was
    
    physically in the policy.” 7A Lee R. Russ & Tomas F. Segalla, Couch on Insurance § 110:1 (3d
    
    ed. 2005); see Lester, 586 F. Supp. 2d at 572; Kitmirides v. Middlesex Mut. Assurance Co., 
    783 A.2d 1079
    , 1084 (Conn. App. Ct. 2001) (“[W]e conclude that a person who is a listed driver on
    
    the declarations page of an automobile insurance policy, and who is nowhere else listed as an
    
    insured, is not entitled to underinsured motorist coverage.”); Ga. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v.
    
    Wilkerson, 
    549 S.E.2d 740
    , 742 (Ga. Ct. App. 2001) (“Although [son of named insured] may be
    
    [covered under policy] because he is an authorized driver of the insured vehicle, he is not the
    
    named insured.”); Little v. Progressive Ins., 
    783 N.E.2d 307
    , 311 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003) (“‘Named
    
    
    
    
                                                     12
    insured’ is . . . not synonymous with ‘driver.’”); Eldridge v. Columbia Mut. Ins. Co., 
    270 S.W.3d 423
    , 427 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) (citing cases showing car insurance policies are not ambiguous
    
    if they do not define the term “driver”)); Hodges v. Pa. Nat. Ins. Co., 
    615 A.2d 1259
    , 1261 n.3
    
    (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1992) (“[A]lthough [the] plaintiff is insured under her mother’s
    
    policy, as would be any driver operating the car with the mother’s permission, only the mother is
    
    the titled ‘insured’ on the policy.”); Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Williams, 
    472 S.E.2d 220
    , 222
    
    (N.C. App. 1996) (“[W]e reject the . . . contention that the term ‘driver’ is synonymous with
    
    ‘named insured.’”).
    
                                              IV. CONCLUSION
    
            For the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that the disputed terms of the insurance
    
    Policy at issue in this case are unambiguous and that Ms. Le does not qualify for uninsured
    
    motorist benefits under the Policy that is the subject of this litigation. Accordingly, summary
    
    judgment is awarded to the defendants.
    
            SO ORDERED this 21st day of April, 2010.10
    
                                                                               /s/
                                                                      REGGIE B. WALTON
                                                                      United States District Court Judge
    
    
    
    
    10
       This Memorandum Opinion accompanies the Order that was issued on March 31, 2010, and the Final Order
    issued on April 21, 2010.
    
    
    
                                                         13