constitutional] right, unless shown to be necessary to promote a compelling government interest, is unconstitutional." 394 U.S. at 634 (emphasis in original).
The Court agrees with defendants that the compelling state interest test is inapplicable to Section 4(b)(1). Such provision does not establish a classification, such as durational residency requirements, which operates to penalize persons from traveling freely interstate. Any person, whether a resident or non-resident of the District of Columbia, must have certain insurance coverage as a precondition to operating a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia. Furthermore, Section 4(b)(1) does not amount to a "penalty" for traveling into the District. It does not deny a fundamental political right as in Dunn, nor does it deny the basic necessities of life as in Shapiro and Maricopa County.22 Travel by motor vehicle on a state's highways is subject to reasonable regulation and applying the rational relationship test, the Court finds that the requirement that nonresidents maintain certain insurance coverage if they operate a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia is reasonable and rationally related to the District's legitimate interest in protecting persons who are injured in motor vehicle accidents in the District.
Lastly, plaintiff Dimond claims that Section 4(b)(1) imposes an unconstitutional burden on her right to contract for the type of insurance coverage she prefers in conformance with the law of the state where she resides. To determine whether the Insurance Act violates the Contract clause of the United States Constitution,
the Court must inquire whether the Insurance Act "operate[s] as a substantial impairment of a contractual relationship," and if so, whether there is a legitimate and significant public purpose behind the Act. Energy Reserves Group, Inc. v. Kansas Power & Light Co., 459 U.S. 400, 411-13, 74 L. Ed. 2d 569, 103 S. Ct. 697 (1983); Allied Structural Steel Company v. Spannaus, 438 U.S. 234, 244, 247, 249, 57 L. Ed. 2d 727, 98 S. Ct. 2716 (1978). In determining the extent of the impairment, the Court must consider that the District of Columbia has regulated motor vehicle insurance in the past. See Energy Reserves Group, Inc., supra, 459 U.S. at 411; Allied Structural Steel Company, supra, 438 U.S. at 242, n.13.
Plaintiff Dimond's claim is without merit. There is no evidence before the Court of substantial impairment of plaintiff Dimond's contractual rights. Even if this were so, which is especially doubtful in light of the fact that motor vehicle insurance traditionally has been subject to substantial regulation, it is clear that the District of Columbia City Council has a significant and legitimate public purpose in requiring nonresidents driving in the District to obtain the same motor vehicle insurance coverage required of District of Columbia residents. Such requirement is a necessary and reasonable means of ensuring that victims of motor vehicle accidents in the District receive compensation for their losses, regardless of whether the driver at fault is a resident or nonresident.
The compulsory insurance requirements of the Insurance Act are a legitimate exercise of the legislative authority of the District of Columbia City Council and do not impermissibly burden interstate commerce or violate substantive due process or the right to travel, to contract, or to petition the government for redress. Elimination of the right of a motor vehicle accident victim to sue for non-economic loss solely because the victim's medical expenses are less than $ 5,000, however, violates equal protection principles under the fifth amendment. An unreasonably high threshold limitation of $ 5,000 in medical expenses goes well beyond elimination of unnecessary litigation of minor claims and is not rationally related to the Insurance Act's expressed purpose of providing adequate protection for motor vehicle accident victims who are injured in the District of Columbia or while riding in motor vehicles registered or operated in the District. As the provisions of the Insurance Act are severable, see note to Section 2, D.C. Code § 35-2101, the invalidity of Section 6(b)(6), D.C. Code § 35-2105(b)(6), does not affect the validity of any other provision that can be given effect without such section. Accordingly, the Court grants summary judgment for defendants as to the compulsory insurance requirements of the Act, and grants summary judgment for plaintiffs as to Section 6(b)(6) of the Act.
Date: Dec. 7, 1984