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COATES v. WASHINGTON METRO. AREA TRANSIT AUTH.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


July 12, 1990

GWENDOLYN COATES, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant

George H. Revercomb, United States District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: REVERCOMB

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

GEORGE H. REVERCOMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 The plaintiff, Gwendolyn Coates, alleges that on December 14, 1988, she was a passenger on one of defendant's *fn1" buses and sustained and incurred certain personal injuries and other damages when a Washington Gas Light truck rear ended the bus as a result of the sole negligence of an unidentified driver of an unknown motor vehicle.

 This matter is before the Court pursuant to the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The sole issue is whether a qualified self-insurer is required to provide uninsured motorist protection under the Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act of 1982 Amendments Act of 1985 (hereinafter "the Act").

 Section 35-2106(a)(1)(D) of the Act provides:

 

Each insurer selling motor vehicle insurance in the District shall be required to offer insurance which shall provide at least all minimum benefits required by this Chapter with respect to: (i) Property damage liability; (ii) third party personal liability; and (iii) uninsured motorist protection. In addition, each insurer shall offer optional personal injury protection insurance required by § 35-2104 and under insured motor vehicle coverage as required by this section. Taxicab insurers and self-insurers shall be exempt from the requirement to offer optional personal injury protection insurance. Taxicab insurers and self-insurers shall also be exempt from the requirements of § 35-2104 that they offer uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage.

 D.C. Code § 35-2106(a)(1)(D) (emphasis supplied).

 The problem in resolving the issue in the instant case is that section 35-2104, referred to in the last sentence of section 35-2106(a)(1)(D), does not require the offering of uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage. These requirements are found in section 35-2106(c-1), (f). *fn2" Rather, section 35-2104, titled as " Personal injury protection," only covers the requirement of offering personal injury protection. *fn3" The plaintiff accordingly argues that where the last sentence of section 35-2106(a)(1)(D) expressly provides that self-insurers are exempted "from the requirements of § 35-2104" the D.C. Council was necessarily exempting self-insurers only from offering personal injury protection, which is the subject of section 35-2104, but erroneously included "offer[ing] uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage."

 The problem with the plaintiff's position, however, is that it fails to explain why the D.C. Council expressly included the language exempting self-insurers from "offer[ing] uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage" if it did not intend to do so. The fact may be that the D.C. Council's error was not in including such language but in citing section 35-2104 as the source of those requirements from which the D.C. Council wanted to exempt self-insurers.

 In reading section 35-2106 in context this Court rules that the only reasonable interpretation is that the D.C. Council in fact intended to exempt self-insurers from both the personal injury protection requirements of section 35-2104 and the uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage requirements of section 35-2106.

 The basis for this Court's ruling is that section 35-2106(a)(1)(D) first provides in one sentence that "taxicab insurers and self-insurers shall be exempt from the requirement to offer optional personal injury protection insurance." The source of the requirement for optional personal injury protection is, of course, section 35-2104. However, after exempting self-insurers from this requirement, the statute then immediately and further provides the sentence that "taxicab insurers and self-insurers shall also be exempt from the requirements of § 35-2104 that they offer uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage." That this latter sentence erroneously cites to sections 35-2104 is evident by the facts that the former sentence had already exempted self-insurers from the requirement of section 35-2104, namely, "the requirement to offer optional personal injury protection insurance," and the use of the word "also" in the latter sentence necessarily implies that the D.C. Council intended to provide exemptions other than personal injury protection, namely, as expressly stated, exemptions from offering "uninsured motorist and underinsured motor vehicle coverage." For the plaintiff to contend that the D.C. Council did not intend to grant these exemptions, where the statute literally "also" provides for them, would simply make a reading of the two juxtaposed sentences redundant at best and nonsensical at worst.

 The plaintiff contends that a ruling which allows self-insurers exemption from uninsured motorist protection would undermine the express purpose of the Act "to provide adequate protection for victims who are injured in the District or who are injured while riding in motor vehicles registered or operated in the District." D.C. Code § 35-2101(b). However, the fact is that the D.C. Council expressly provided that self-insurers may exempt themselves from offering "uninsured motorist protection and underinsured motor vehicle coverage." If the D.C. Council did not intend to include this language in section 35-2106(a)(1)(D) then it can of course amend the Act to remove the language. However, this Court notes that the language has been in effect for nearly five years which suggests to this Court that the language was in fact intended.

 Moreover, this Court's ruling does not leave individuals in plaintiff's position totally without a remedy. The Act establishes an uninsured motorist fund "for the purpose of awarding compensation to a victim of an accident who sustains injury therefrom and would not otherwise be compensated for his or her loss." D.C. Code § 35-2114.

 Accordingly, it hereby is

 ORDERED that the defendant's motion for summary judgment be, and the same hereby is, GRANTED. *fn4"

 JUDGMENT ORDER - July 12, 1990, Filed

 In accordance with the Memorandum Decision Order of July 12, 1990, in which this Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment in this matter, it hereby is

 ORDERED that JUDGMENT be, and the same hereby is, ENTERED in favor of the defendant.


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