JAMES L. MARTIN, Plaintiff Below-Appellant,
NATIONAL GENERAL ASSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant Below-Appellee
Submitted May 2, 2014
Motion for rehearing en Banc filed July 23, 2014; Denied August 1, 2014. Case Closed August 1, 2014.
This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.
Court Below--Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County. C.A. No. N13C-01-020.
Before STRINE, Chief Justice, BERGER, and RIDGELY, Justices.
Henry duPont Ridgely Justice
This 9th day of July 2014, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:
(1) The plaintiff-appellant, James L. Martin, filed this appeal from an order of the Superior Court, dated September 27, 2013, denying Martin's motion for partial summary judgment and granting summary judgment to the appellee, National General Assurance Company (" National" ). We find no merit to the issues Martin raises on appeal. Accordingly, we affirm the Superior Court's judgment.
(2) Martin is a Delaware resident who had an automobile insurance policy with National for personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motor vehicle driver protection. Martin was involved in an accident while riding his bicycle in an organized cycling event in New Jersey in September 2010. He was found lying by the side of the road with his bicycle on top of him. He suffered broken teeth and a five inch cut to his face, which required emergency medical care. Martin had no memory of what caused the accident, and there were no eyewitnesses.
(3) Martin sought to recover benefits under his policy with National, alleging that he had been the victim of a hit-and-run motor vehicle. National denied coverage, finding no evidence that a motor vehicle was involved in Martin's accident. Martin then sought arbitration before an Insurance Commissioner's panel under 21 Del. C. § 2118(j). The arbitration panel found that Martin's evidence did not support a finding that a motor vehicle had been involved in his accident. The panel, therefore, concluded that there was no applicable insurance coverage.
(4) Martin then filed an appeal with the Superior Court seeking de novo review under 21 Del. C. § 2118(j)(5). Martin's complaint sought PIP benefits and UM benefits, as well as exemplary damages for National's bad faith denial of his claim. After National filed a partial motion to dismiss and Martin filed a partial motion for summary judgment, the Superior Court denied both motions without prejudice pending the conclusion of discovery on Martin's PIP claim. The Superior Court also stayed further discovery and consideration of Martin's UM and bad faith claims pending the resolution of the PIP claim.
(5) In September 2013, upon completion of discovery, both parties filed renewed motions for summary judgment on the PIP claim. The Superior Court held a hearing on September 27, 2013. Martin argued that the Superior Court should take judicial notice that Martin had been awarded $685.22 from the State of New Jersey's Victim of Crime Compensation's Office (NJVCCO) and that this award constituted an administrative tribunal's decision that he had been involved in a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident. Martin also argued that the experts' reports all agreed that his bicycle, which was damaged beyond repair, had impacted a stationary ...