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Luckey v. Balboa Insurance Co.

February 12, 2010

MICHAEL X. LUCKEY, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF KELLY A. LUCKEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BALBOA INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter, which was removed to this Court from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), is a declaratory judgment action involving the scope of coverage of two insurance policies issued by defendant Balboa Insurance Company ("Balboa"). Now pending before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment and the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint against Balboa.

The complaint filed by plaintiff Michael X. Luckey originally named three defendants in addition to Balboa: Sukai Prom-Jackson, the holder of the Balboa insurance policies; John L. Prom, as the personal representative of the estate of Anthony J. Prom; and ACE Private Risk Services ("ACE").*fn1 Ms. Prom-Jackson, Balboa, and ACE moved to dismiss the complaint against them on July 27, 2009. While that motion was pending, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After careful consideration of the parties' papers and the entire record in this case, the Court granted defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to Ms. Prom-Jackson and ACE by minute order dated January 15, 2010. By the same minute order, the Court sua sponte dismissed the plaintiff's complaint against John Prom. See Best v. Kelly, 39 F.3d 328, 331 (D.C. Cir. 1995) ("Complaints may . . . be dismissed[] sua sponte . . . whenever 'the plaintiff cannot possibly win relief.'"). Because plaintiff's complaint contains no allegations whatsoever against Ms. Prom-Jackson, John Prom, Anthony Prom, or ACE, plaintiff's complaint does not "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face" against any of these defendants. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also Best v. Kelly, 39 F.3d at 331. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the complaint against them under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The defendants' motion to dismiss thus has been resolved with regard to all defendants except Balboa. For the reasons explained in this Opinion, the Court now will deny the defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to Balboa, deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and grant defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to Balboa.*fn2

I. BACKGROUND

On March 16, 2008, a tragic automobile accident resulted in the deaths of Kelly A. Luckey and Anthony Prom, a 28 year-old aspiring chef. See Pl's SMF ¶ 13. The accident occurred while Anthony Prom was driving a car owned and insured by Ms. Luckey. Id. ¶ 15.*fn3

The car involved in the accident was not insured under any insurance policy issued by Balboa to Sukai Prom-Jackson. Id. ¶ 16.

Beginning in July 2007 and until the accident in March 2008, Anthony Prom lived in a house owned by his aunt, Sukai Prom-Jackson, at 1208 Tewkesbury Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20012 ("the Washington, D.C. house"). See Pl's SMF ¶¶ 11, 12; Prom Aff. ¶ 2, Fofana Aff. ¶ 1. Ms. Prom-Jackson testified in her deposition that she did not require Mr. Prom to pay rent for living in her house because he was working to establish himself as a sous chef and he was struggling to pay other bills. See Prom-Jackson Dep. at 36-37, 43, 55. Despite the fact that Ms. Prom-Jackson did not charge Mr. Prom rent, she testified in her deposition that she did not share a close relationship with him, did not regularly speak to him, only saw him at family events, and did not know personal things about his life. See id. at 29, 30.

Ms. Prom-Jackson also owned a house at 17510 Ashton Forest Terrace, Sandy Spring, Maryland 20860. See Pl's SMF ¶¶ 1, 8, 9. Ms. Prom-Jackson lived in the Washington, D.C. house with her son and her husband, who is now deceased, until 2004, when she began living exclusively in the house she owned in Maryland. See Prom-Jackson Dep. at 19, 31-34. Ms. Prom-Jackson testified in her deposition that she rarely visited the Washington, D.C. house after 2004, but that she maintained a homeowner's insurance policy on the house from Travelers Insurance. See Travelers Home Policy. This insurance policy is not at issue in this case. Anthony Prom and Ms. Prom-Jackson never lived in the Washington, D.C. house during the same period of time. See Pl's SMF ¶¶ 11, 12; Prom-Jackson Dep. at 19, 31-34.

In October 2002, Ms. Prom-Jackson sponsored Ida Fofana, her distant cousin from Gambia, to receive a G5 domestic visa. See Pl's Sep. SMF ¶ 5. A G5 domestic visa is issued to the "non-immigrant . . . household employees of representatives and staff members of international organizations." Cuco Aff. ¶ 4. Under federal immigration law, a G5 domestic employee must "be employed exclusively by the sponsoring employer" and can perform only "household duties" for that employer. Id. ¶ 5.

In 2002, Ms. Fofana began living at Ms. Prom-Jackson's Washington, D.C. house and working as a G5 domestic employee. Pl's Sep. SMF¶ 5. It is undisputed that Ms. Fofana performed domestic work from October 2002 to June 2004 at the Washington, D.C. house, while Ms. Prom-Jackson and her son lived there; this work "includ[ed] but [was] not limited to housekeeping, house maintenance, shopping, childcare, cooking, cleaning, laundry and errands."

Id. Although the parties dispute whether Ms. Fofana continued to perform domestic work at the Washington, D.C. house after June 2004 when Ms. Prom-Jackson and her son moved to the Maryland house, this fact is not material to the Court's analysis. Regardless of this dispute, it is clear from the record that Ms. Fofana and Anthony Prom both lived in the Washington, D.C. house owned by Ms. Prom-Jackson from July 2007 until the accident in March 2008. See Pl's SMF ¶¶ 11, 12; Prom Aff. ¶ 2; Fofana Aff. ¶ 1.

II. RELEVANT INSURANCE POLICIES

A. Balboa Automobile Policy

Balboa is an insurance company that issued a series of insurance policies to Ms. Prom-Jackson. See Pl's SMF ¶¶ 1, 5. Balboa issued an automobile insurance policy to Ms. Prom-Jackson, at 17510 Ashton Forest Terrace, Sandy Spring, Maryland 20860, for a policy period from May 21, 2007, to May 21, 2008 (the "automobile policy"). See id. ¶ 1. The automobile policy insured one car, a 2002 Honda Accord, and insured two drivers, Ms. Prom-Jackson and her son, M'Buram. Id. ¶ 2, 3.

The terms of the automobile policy extended coverage beyond the named insured individuals to Ms. Prom-Jackson's family members if they were "residents of her household." See Pl's ...


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