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Byoung Suk An v. Vict. Fire & Cas. Co.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

April 17, 2015

BYOUNG SUK AN, Appellant
v.
VICTORIA FIRE & CASUALTY CO., D/B/A TITAN AUTO INSURANCE AND MATTHEW GILMORE AND ZAINAB WALKER, Appellees

Argued February 5, 2015

Page 1284

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, Entered June 23, 2014, Civil Division, No(s): 2013-006320. Before HAAZ, J.

Jay L. Solnick, Jenkintown, for appellant.

Victor M. Verbeke, Plymouth Meeting, for Victoria Fire, appellee.

BEFORE: GANTMAN, P.J., SHOGAN, and ALLEN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1285

SHOGAN, JUDGE

Appellant, Byoung Suk An, appeals from the order dated June 20, 2014, and entered June 23, 2014, denying his

Page 1286

motion for summary judgment.[1] On appeal, Appellant challenges the trial court's determination that the " named driver only" automobile policy issued to Zainab Walker (" Walker" ) does not violate section 1718(c) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (" MVFRL" ), 75 Pa.C.S. § 1718(c), and is not contrary to public policy. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On August 2, 2012, Appellant filed a complaint in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas against Matthew Gilmore (" Gilmore" ) and Walker. In the underlying complaint, Appellant alleged he was injured in a motor vehicle accident on March 20, 2011, which involved a vehicle owned by Walker and operated by Gilmore.[2] The complaint included a count against Gilmore for negligent operation of Walker's vehicle and a count against Walker for negligently entrusting her vehicle to Gilmore. At the time of the alleged accident, the motor vehicle owned by Walker was insured under a Pennsylvania Personal Automobile Policy (" Policy" ) issued by Titan Indemnity Company d/b/a Titan Auto Insurance and underwritten by Victoria Fire and Casualty Company (" Victoria" ).[3] The Policy did not provide liability coverage for any person not listed as a named driver on the Policy. Walker was the sole driver listed on the Policy.

Appellant filed an action for declaratory judgment on March 26, 2013, seeking a declaration by the court that Victoria had a duty to defend and provide insurance coverage to Walker and Gilmore for all claims arising out of the alleged motor vehicle accident. On February 12, 2014, Victoria filed a motion for summary judgment claiming it had no duty to defend or indemnify Walker or Gilmore because the Policy specifically stated that Victoria " will not provide coverage when the driver of your auto is not listed on the policy." Victoria's Motion for Summary Judgment, 2/12/14, at 3. Appellant subsequently filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on

Page 1287

March 26, 2014, arguing the " named driver only" Policy violates section 1718(c) of the MVFRL and is against public policy. Appellant's Motion for Summary Judgment, 3/26/14, at 7-9. Oral argument on the cross-motions for summary judgment was held.

On June 23, 2014, the trial court entered an order denying Appellant's motion for summary judgment, and a separate order granting Victoria's motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing Appellant's action for declaratory judgment. Appellant timely appealed.

Appellant presents the following issues for our review, which we set forth verbatim:

A. Whether the trial court committed an error of law and abused its discretion in finding that Victoria Fire & Casualty Company does not have a duty to provide insurance coverage and a defense to Matthew Gilmore and Zainab Walker for any and all claims arising out of a March 20, 2011 motor vehicle accident involving Byoung Suk An, including, but not limited to, claim number 80011002887 and the lawsuit filed by Byoung Suk An in connection therewith in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, case number 2012-21107, when the " named driver only" coverage exclusion contained in the subject automobile insurance policy issued by Victoria Fire & Casualty Company conflicts with and is contrary to the " named driver exclusion" of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1718(c)(2), and is therefore invalid?
B. Whether the trial court committed an error of law and abused its discretion in finding that Victoria Fire & Casualty Company does not have a duty to provide insurance coverage and a defense to Matthew Gilmore and Zainab Walker for any and all claims arising out of a March 20, 2011 motor vehicle accident involving Byoung Suk An, including, but not limited to, claim number 80011002887 and the lawsuit filed by Byoung Suk An in connection therewith in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, case number 2012-21107, when the " named driver only" coverage exclusion contained in the subject automobile insurance policy issued by Victoria Fire & Casualty Company conflicts with and is contrary to public policy in Pennsylvania, and is therefore invalid?

Appellant's Brief at 4-5.

Our standard of review with respect to a trial court's decision to grant or deny a motion for summary judgment is as follows:

A reviewing court may disturb the order of the trial court only where it is established that the court committed an error of law or abused its discretion. As with all questions of law, our review is plenary.
In evaluating the trial court's decision to enter summary judgment, we focus on the legal standard articulated in the summary judgment rule. Pa.R.C.P. 1035.2. The rule states that where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to relief as a matter of law, summary judgment may be entered. Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on an issue, he may not merely rely on his pleadings or answers in order to survive summary judgment. Failure of a nonmoving party to adduce sufficient evidence on an issue essential to his case and on which it bears the burden of proof establishes the entitlement of the moving party to judgment as a ...

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