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Thao v. Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company of America

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division

June 13, 2018

James Thao and Pa Vang, Plaintiffs,
v.
Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company of America, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          A. MARVIN QUATTLEBAUM, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Motion for Judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 16) of Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company of America (“Defendant”) and on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24) of James Thao and Pa Vang (“Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs seek a declaration from this Court that insurance coverage applies to an automobile accident that occurred while Pa Vang was operating a motor vehicle despite there being an endorsement on the policy naming her as an excluded driver. Defendant's motion seeks a declaration that the named driver exclusion applies and that Defendant does not owe any coverage for claims arising out of the accident. After the matter was fully briefed, the Court held a hearing on May 4, 2018. At the hearing, both parties agreed that there were no remaining genuine issues of material fact when the affidavits and exhibits filed in connection with the motions were considered. After considering the written materials submitted and the arguments of counsel, the Court grants the Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 16) and denies Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 24.)

         BACKGROUND

         According to Plaintiffs' Complaint, on January 9, 2016, James Thao applied for and purchased an auto insurance policy from Defendant Nationwide through a local agent. (ECF No. 1-1 at 3, ¶ 4.) The application for the insurance policy was prepared and signed by the agent. Id.

         The application contained information about household residents and the identity of drivers. (ECF No. 26-1.) The application indicated that Thao was married to Pa Vang, and, at the time, Vang was unlicensed and had never had a license. (ECF No. 1-1 at 3, ¶ 5.)

         Thao also signed a named driver exclusion form titled “Voiding Auto Insurance While Named Person Is Operating Car.” (ECF No. 26-2.) The form provided in pertinent part:

With this endorsement, all coverages in your policy are not in effect while PA Vang is operating any motor vehicle.
This policy remains unchanged in all other respects.
As indicated by my signature, I James Thao accept this endorsement.
Check one:
(X) The excluded person's driver's license has been surrendered to the State Highway Department.
() The excluded person has obtained insurance or other security to operate motor vehicles.

         At some point, Pa Vang decided to apply for a license. On April 21, 2017, Pa Vang was taking the driving test with a DMV examiner in her vehicle when she was involved in a motor vehicle accident. (ECF No. 1-1 at 4, ¶¶ 10-12.) After the accident, James Thao presented a claim for physical damage to the motor vehicle and requested that Pa Vang be defended against liability claims arising from the accident. Id. at 4, ¶ 13. The claim was denied on the grounds that Pa Vang was excluded as an insured. Id. at 4, ¶ 14. Plaintiffs seek an Order from this Court declaring the insurance agreement and endorsement to be null and void and Defendant to be liable for the losses sustained by Plaintiffs and finding that Plaintiffs are entitled to actual and punitive damages.

         STANDARDS ...


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