Submitted: April 6, 2018
Defendant Geico Secure Insurance Company's Motion for
Summary Judgment, CONDITIONALLY GRANTED AS SET FORTH BELOW.
Plaintiff Silvia Negron's Cross-Motion for Summary
M. Davis, Judge
a contract action. This civil action relates to an insurance
coverage dispute. Plaintiff Silvia I. Negron was driving her
mother's car on I-495 northbound. A 2003 Ford Explorer
(the "Ford Explorer") approached Ms. Negron from
behind. The occupants of the Ford Explorer fired handguns at
Ms. Negron striking her and her passenger. Norma Negron, Ms.
Negron's mother, had a valid car insurance policy (the
"Policy") issued by Defendant Geico Secure
Insurance Company ("Geico") on the car at the time
of the incident.
denied coverage under the Policy. Ms. Negron filed suit.
Geico filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (the
"Motion"). Ms. Negron filed a Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment (the "Cross-Motion"). Geico filed
an Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary
Judgment ("Geico's Opposition").
reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the
Motion without prejudice to Ms. Negron amending the
Complaint, and DENIES Cross-Motion.
Policy covered the car driven by Ms. Negron on March 8, 2015.
The Policy includes Uninsured Motorists ("UIM")
Coverage. The Policy defines an uninsured motor vehicle as
"a motor vehicle which has no bodily injury and property
damage liability bond or insurance policy applicable with
liability limits complying with the Financial Responsibility
Law of the state in which such auto is principally garaged or
registered at the time of the accident."  Uninsured motor
vehicle "also includes an auto the insurer of which is,
or comes insolvent or denies coverage" or "an auto
being used without the owner's permission . .
the Policy states that Geico will "pay damages for
bodily injury and property damage caused by accident which
the insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or
operator of an uninsured motor vehicle or hit and run auto
arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of that
auto." Bodily injury is "bodily injury,
sickness, or disease, including death, sustained by [the
insured], [the insured's] relatives or any other person
occupying an insured auto with [the insured's]
B. The Incident
March 8, 2015, Ms. Negron drove a car owned by her
mother. A Ford Explorer approached Ms. Negron from
behind. The unknown occupants of the Ford Explorer
fired handguns at Ms. Negron and her passenger. Ms. Negron's
vehicle struck the Ford Explorer's rear driver
side. The Ford Explorer spun off the roadway and
got stuck in a ditch.
Negron "was jolted and torqued as a result" of the
sudden impact from the Ford Explorer. Ms. Negron
also suffered gunshot wounds. Ms. Negron's vehicle exited
I-495 onto Route 13. Detective Mark Ryde of the Delaware
State Police and medical personnel responded to the scene.
The medical personnel transported Ms. Negron to Christiana
Hospital and treated Ms. Negron for "multiple injuries
in association with a gunshot wound to her right and left
Negron suffered "injuries to her spine, left arm, head,
back, lungs, and chest."These injuries included a
"severed spinal cord (causing paraplegia), urinary tract
infections, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain due
to trauma, muscle weakness, intestinal infections, major
depressive disorder, other heart block, and esophageal reflux
compression." Dr. Christian Fras prepared a report of
Ms. Negron's medical diagnosis.
Negron sought coverage under the Policy's UIM benefits.
Geico, denied coverage.
C. The Litigation
December 6, 2016, Ms. Negron filed suit against Geico for (1)
breach of contract; and (2) breach of the covenant of good
faith and fair dealing in the Court of Common
Pleas. The case was removed to this Court. On
December 28, 2016, Detective Ryde sent Ms. Negron's
attorney an email with three diagrams by the Crash
Reconstruction Unit. The email also stated that the Ford
Explorer is registered to Zuavey Kadafi.
January 24, 2018, Geico filed the Motion. Ms. Negron filed
the Cross-Motion on February 9, 2018. On February 21, 2018,
Geico filed the Geico's Opposition. The Court held a
hearing (the "Hearing") on the Motion,
Cross-Motion, and Geico's Opposition on March 7, 2018. At
the Hearing, Ms. Negron's counsel explained that he had
trouble obtaining information about the Ford Explorer's
registration. The Court allowed Ms. Negron to conduct
discovery regarding the ownership and potential insurance for
the Ford Explorer. On April 6, 2018, Ms. Negron filed
supplemental information (the "Supplemental
Exhibit A is a compilation of DMV records for the Ford
Explorer. Supplemental Exhibit A includes an Application for
Title, Certificate of Title, Delaware Dealer Reassignment,
and other related documents. The Supplemental Exhibits
indicate that Mr. Kadafi purchased the Ford Explorer on
October 15, 2014. Supplemental Exhibit B is a printout of
insurance information for the Ford Explorer. Mr. Kadafi
obtained insurance on September 25, 2014. Mr. Kadafi
terminated his insurance policy on October 21, 2014.
Supplemental Exhibit C is an email from Detective Ryde.
Detective Ryde searched the Ford Explorer and did not find
any insurance card in the vehicle.
III. PARTIES' CONTENTIONS
seeks summary judgment in its favor. Geico argues that Ms.
Negron's injuries were caused by gunshot wounds and were
not a direct or proximate result of the vehicle collision. As
such, Geico contends that the Policy does not cover Ms.
Negron's injuries. In Geico's Opposition, Geico
further argues that Ms. Negron knows the identity of the
registered owner of the Ford Explorer. Ms. Negron does not
state that the Ford Explorer is uninsured or underinsured. As
such, Ms. Negron cannot rely upon the uninsured provision of
Negron argues that she can recover for her injuries although
they stemmed from a gunshot wound. Ms. Negron claims she may
recover in this instance because the vehicle used was an
active accessory to the shooting. As such, Ms. Negron's
injuries fall within the Policy.
STANDARD OF REVIEW A. Civil Rule 56
standard of review on a motion for summary judgment is
well-settled. The Court's principal function when
considering a motion for summary judgment is to examine the
record to determine whether genuine issues of material fact
exist, "but not to decide such
issues."Summary judgment will be granted if,
after viewing the record in a light most favorable to a
nonmoving party, no genuine issues of material fact exist and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. If, however, the record reveals that
material facts are in dispute, or if the factual record has
not been developed thoroughly enough to allow the Court to
apply the law to the factual record, then summary judgment
will not be granted. The moving party bears the initial
burden of demonstrating that the undisputed facts support his
claims or defenses. If the motion is properly supported,
then the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate
that there are material issues of fact for the resolution by
the ultimate fact-finder.
A.There is a Genuine Issue of Material Fact Whether the
Ford Explorer was Insured at the ...