NORTH CAROLINA FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff,
MARINA MARTIN, by and through her natural parent and guardian JEAN O. MARTIN, JEAN O. MARTIN, Individually, and DAVID M. MARTIN, Defendants.
in the Court of Appeals 20 September 2018.
by defendants from order entered 28 September 2017 by Judge
J. Carlton Cole in Currituck County No. 16CVS151 Superior
Moore & Henderson, P.A., by Glenn C. Raynor, for
Drescher Imprevento, P.C., by Jeffrey A. Breit, for
Martin ("Marina") by and through her parents, Jean
("Jean") and David Martin ("David"),
(collectively, "the Martins"), and Jean,
individually appeal the trial court's grant of summary
judgment for North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance
Company, Inc. ("Farm Bureau"). We affirm the trial
and Procedural Background
January 6, 2014, Jean operated a 1994 Ford vehicle in
Virginia Beach, Virginia. Marina was a passenger in the
vehicle. This vehicle was owned by David and Jean with a
separate and independent policy of insurance issued in their
names. Jean attempted to cross a four-way intersection when
another vehicle driven by Santiago T. Livara, Jr.,
("Livara") struck the 1994 Ford driven by Jean.
Jean and Marina were both injured in the accident. Jean and
Marina subsequently sued Livara in Virginia, alleging
Jean and Marina asserted that they were covered under the
uninsured/underinsured motorist ("UM/UIM")
provisions of a separate automobile insurance policy issued
by Farm Bureau solely to Mary Martin ("Mary"). Mary
is Jean's mother-in-law and Marina's paternal
grandmother. Mary's policy was in effect on the date of
the accident and provided medical coverage and UM/UIM
coverage. The policy issued to Mary named only Mary as an
owner-insured, and did not identify the 1994 Ford as a
Farm Bureau policy issued to Mary provides, in relevant part:
PART B-MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE
We will pay reasonable expenses incurred for necessary
medical and funeral services because of bodily injury:
1. Caused by accident; and
2. Sustained by an Insured . . . .
"Insured" as used in this Part means:
1. You or any family member;
a. while occupying; or
b. as a pedestrian when struck by;
a motor vehicle designed for use mainly on public roads or a
trailer of any type.
Under Mary's policy, an "Insured", and
consequently coverage, is limited to "You [Mary] or
any family member, which is defined as "a
person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is a
resident of your household." The policy does not define
either of the terms "resident" or
date of the accident, Mary was the sole owner of a farm
located on Knotts Island, North Carolina ("Martin
Farm"). Mary lived alone on Martin Farm Lane, and her
mailing address was registered to a Post Office Box in Knotts
Island, North Carolina. The Martins lived in a separate and
detached house located on the Martin Farm with an address on
Bay Orchard Lane. Their mailing address was registered to a
different Post Office Box in Knotts Island, North Carolina.
The houses share a single driveway, but are both stand-alone
houses and located approximately a three to five minute walk
from one another. No evidence in the record tends to show
either Marina or Jean ever lived with Mary in her residence
on Martin Farm Lane.
and the Martins saw each other almost every day and
considered themselves to be a cohesive family unit. The
Martins had keys to Mary's house with unlimited access,
and Mary had the same access to the Martin's home.
Barring unforeseen circumstances or occasional overnight
stays, the Martins and Mary lived separately in their
Bureau brought a declaratory judgment action alleging that
Jean and Marina did not qualify as "insured[s]" as
defined in the policy because they were not
"residents" of Mary's "household" at
the time of the accident. Farm Bureau and the Martins filed
cross-motions from summary judgment and the trial court heard
their motions on August 21, 2017. The Martins contended that
Marina and Jean are entitled to coverage under Mary's
policy because they are her "family member[s]," as
defined therein. On September 28, 2017, the trial court
granted summary judgment in favor of Farm Bureau and denied
the Martins' motion for summary judgment.
Martins timely appealed, arguing that the trial court erred
by entering summary judgment in favor of Farm Bureau and
concluding that Marina and Jean were not covered under
Mary's policy. We affirm.
"Although this is an action for declaratory judgment,
because it was decided by summary judgment, we apply the
standard of review applicable to summary judgment."
Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Paschal, 231 N.C.App.
558, 563, 752 S.E.2d 775, 779 (2014).
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and any party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. In ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, the court may consider the pleadings,
depositions, admissions, affidavits, answers to
interrogatories, oral testimony and documentary materials.
All such evidence must be considered in a light most