United States District Court, D. Maine
KRISTEN L. LAPLANTE, Plaintiff,
PEERLESS INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT ORDER
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff seeks to recover uninsured motorist benefits under
her parents' motor vehicle policy with the Defendant for
injuries she sustained in a motorcycle accident. Under the
terms of that policy, uninsured motorist benefits are
available to the Plaintiff's parents as named insureds
and their family members who are residents of their
household. As a matter of law, the Court concludes that, even
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff, she was not a resident of her parents'
household at the time of the accident, and therefore, the
Court grants the Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
August 26, 2015, Kristen L. LaPlante filed a complaint
against Peerless Insurance Company (Peerless).
Compl. (ECF No. 1). The Complaint contains two
counts: Count I seeks a declaratory judgment that Ms.
LaPlante was covered under her parents' motor vehicle
insurance policy, and Count II alleges that Peerless breached
that insurance policy by refusing to pay Ms. LaPlante
following the accident. Compl. at 2-3. Peerless
answered the Complaint on October 7, 2015. Answer
(ECF No. 5).
20, 2016, the United States Magistrate Judge held a telephone
conference in which he ordered the parties to complete
discovery only as to the coverage issue by October 14, 2016.
Report of Telephone Conf. and Order at 1 (ECF No.
39). On October 25, 2016, following the completion of
discovery on the coverage issue, the Magistrate Judge held
another telephone conference and determined that
“judicial economy militates in favor of resolving the
coverage issue before the parties engage in further discovery
regarding Plaintiff's liability and damage claims.”
Report of Telephone Conference and Order at 1 (ECF
No. 42). The Magistrate Judge noted that Peerless intended to
file a motion for summary judgment on the issue of coverage
and concluded that no Local Rule 56(h) conference was needed
“[g]iven the relative narrow issue and the limited
summary judgment record that will be necessary . . . .”
Id. at 1.
December 15, 2016, Peerless filed a motion for summary
judgment and a statement of undisputed material facts.
Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 43) (Def.'s
Mot.); Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Material
Facts (ECF No. 44) (DSMF). On February 6, 2017, Ms.
LaPlante filed an opposition to Peerless' motion for
summary judgment and a responsive statement of material
facts. Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for
Summ. J. (ECF No. 48) (Pl.'s Opp'n);
Pl.'s Opposing Statement of Material Facts Pursuant
to D. Me. Loc. R. 56(c) (ECF No. 49) (PRDSMF). Ms.
LaPlante did not file a statement of additional material
facts. On March 6, 2017, Peerless filed a reply and a reply
statement of undisputed material facts. Reply in
Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 52) (Def.'s
Reply); Def's Reply Statement of Undisputed
Material Facts (ECF No. 53).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT FACTS
Accident and Insurance Policy
LaPlante was injured in a motor vehicle accident (Accident)
on January 28, 2010, in Orlando, Florida, when she was the
passenger on a motorcycle owned and negligently operated by
an uninsured driver. DSMF ¶ 1; PRDSMF ¶ 1.
time of the Accident, Ms. LaPlante's parents, Michael and
Robin LaPlante of Waterville, Maine, were the only named
insureds on a personal motor vehicle insurance policy
(Policy) issued by Peerless. DSMF ¶ 2; PRDSMF ¶ 2.
In relevant part, the Policy provided uninsured motorists
coverage to the named insureds and to “any
‘family member'.” DSMF ¶ 3; PRDSMF
¶ 3. The Policy defines “family member” as
“a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
who is a resident of your household. This includes a ward or
foster child.” DSMF ¶ 4; PRDSMF ¶ 4.
Where Ms. LaPlante Lived and When
2000 - October 2002
graduating high school in 2000, Ms. LaPlante moved from
Waterville, Maine, to southern Maine, where she attended
college in Gorham until partway through her sophomore year,
living variously in dorms or with her sister until the spring
of 2002. DSMF ¶ 6; PRDSMF ¶ 6. Upon
leaving college in the spring of 2002, Ms. LaPlante lived
with friends in a house in Portland, Maine. Id.
October 2002 - September 2003
October 2002, Ms. LaPlante moved back to Waterville and lived
with her father in an apartment while her mother was working
in North Carolina. DSMF ¶ 8; PRDSMF ¶ 8. Also in
October 2002, Ms. LaPlante began working at an Old Navy store
in Augusta, Maine. PRDSMF ¶ 5. Her employment with Old
Navy continued until September 2003. Id.. At some point
during the period from October 2002 to September 2003, Ms.
LaPlante transferred from the Old Navy in Augusta to an Old
Navy in Portland. Id.. Upon her transfer, Ms.
LaPlante moved to Scarborough, Maine. Id. Ms. LaPlante
does not know precisely when the transfer occurred, but she
believes that she lived for a longer period with her father
in Waterville than she did in Scarborough. Id.
during this time period, Ms. LaPlante stayed with her mother
in North Carolina for “a couple of months, ” but
Ms. LaPlante cannot recall the exact dates.DSMF ¶ 8;
PRDSMF ¶ 8.
September 2003 - Fall 2004
LaPlante left Scarborough and continued living independently
in various locations in Maine until the fall of
2004. DSMF ¶ 7; PRDSMF ¶ 7. Postal
records indicate that she moved from Scarborough to Bangor in
September 2003, from Bangor to Orrington in November 2003,
and from Orrington to Milford in August 2004. Id.
Ms. LaPlante lived in Bangor, she was involved in a motor
vehicle accident while driving her parents'
car. DSMF ¶ 9; PRDSMF ¶ 9.
Following that accident and through January 28, 2010, Ms.
LaPlante's parents did not permit her to drive their
cars. DSMF ¶ 9; PRDSMF ¶ 9. Ms.
LaPlante has no specific recollection of driving her
parents' vehicles between the time of the accident in
2003 and the Accident at issue in this case. DSMF ¶
10; PRDSMF ¶ 10.
still living in Bangor, Ms. LaPlante bought a Chevrolet and
purchased her own insurance policy for the car, which she
maintained until she moved to Florida in the fall of
2004. DSMF ¶ 11; PRDSMF ¶ 11.
Fall 2004 - May 2006
LaPlante moved to Florida for the first time in the fall of
2004, and in November 2004, she registered a change of
address with the United States Postal Service from Milford,
Maine, to Daytona Beach, Florida. DSMF ¶ 12; PRDSMF
¶ 12. She changed her address again in February 2004
from Daytona Beach to Orlando, Florida. DSMF ¶ 12;
PRDSMF ¶ 12. Ms. LaPlante lived and worked in Florida
for about a year and a half between 2004 and 2006, during
which time she did not visit 15. The date of the 911 call
incident is obscure, but Ms. LaPlante acknowledged that it is
possible it took place before the accident in Bangor in
September or October 2003. Id. 131:16-132:8. Putting
this together, the Court concludes that Ms. LaPlante's
parents did not want her to drive their vehicles from
September-October 2003 through January 28, 2010. The Court
amends Peerless' statement of material fact paragraph
nine accordingly. her parents nor did they visit her, and Ms.
LaPlante had little contact with her parents by phone or
email. DSMF ¶ 13; PRDSMF ¶ 13. While Ms. LaPlante
was in Florida, her parents moved several times within Maine,
and she was not always aware of their current address, nor
were they aware of hers at all times. DSMF ¶ 14; PRDSMF
May 2006 - April 2007
LaPlante returned to Maine in May 2006. DSMF ¶ 15;
PRDSMF ¶ 15. Her father drove her from the airport
directly to her sister's home in Portland, where she
lived for a few months until moving in with friends in
Biddeford, Maine. DSMF ¶ 16; PRDSMF ¶ 16. While
staying at her sister's home, her father visited
frequently, but her mother did not. PRDSMF ¶ 16. She
also visited her parents' home at some point when her
sister moved back in with her parents. Id. Ms.
LaPlante listed the Biddeford address on her 2006 tax return.
DSMF ¶ 17; PRDSMF ¶ 17.
April 2007 - February 2009
April 2007, Ms. LaPlante moved from Biddeford to California,
and her address on her 2007 tax return was in Avalon,
California. DSMF ¶ 18; PRDSMF ¶ 18. Ms. LaPlante
had secured a three-month seasonal job prior to moving to
California. DSMF ¶ 19; PRDSMF ¶ 19. Once there, she
found subsequent employment and remained in California at
various locations for almost two years. Id. During
the time she lived in California, Ms. LaPlante did not leave
the state, nor did her parents visit her there. DSMF ¶
20; PRDSMF ¶ 20. While in California, Ms. LaPlante
contacted her parents by telephone. DSMF ¶ 21; PRDSMF
February 2009 - May 2009
LaPlante moved back to Maine in February 2009, intending to
live with her parents. DSMF ¶ 22; PRDSMF ¶ 22. Ms.
LaPlante brought with her a cat that she acquired in
California. Id. Her father picked up Ms. LaPlante
and her cat at the airport and took them to her parents'
home in Oakland, Maine; this was the first time Ms. LaPlante
had visited her parents' home in Oakland since they
purchased it in 2007. DSMF ¶ 22; PRDSMF ¶ 22.
LaPlante stayed with her parents for a few months after
returning to Maine, but her parents expected her to
“[g]et a job and get a life.” DSMF ¶
23; PRDSMF ¶ 23. Ms. LaPlante's mother, troubled by
her perception that Ms. LaPlante was an alcoholic, made it
clear that Ms. LaPlante's stay at her parents' home
would be temporary. DSMF ¶ 24.
May 2009 - October 2009
2009, Ms. LaPlante found employment in Bar Harbor, Maine, and
moved to an apartment there with her cat. DSMF ¶ 25;
PRDSMF ¶ 25. Her father took Ms. LaPlante shopping and
bought her pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery to set up her
apartment in Bar Harbor. DSMF ¶ 26; PRDSMF ¶ 26.
April 15, 2009, while living in Bar Harbor, Ms. LaPlante
visited the emergency room at Mount Desert Island Hospital.
DSMF ¶ 27; PRDSMF ¶ 27. The emergency room report
associated with that visit states, “This is a
26-year-old resident of Bar Harbor . . .
October 2009 - January 2010
October 2009, Ms. LaPlante moved from Bar Harbor back to
Florida, taking her cat with her. DSMF ¶ 28; PRDSMF
¶ 28. Explaining her move from Bar Harbor to Florida,
Ms. LaPlante testified that a friend “said she wanted
to go down to Florida and I was like I don't want to be
here in the winter, maybe I'll go too and we ended up
just winging it and going.” PRDSMF ¶ 35. Her
parents understood Ms. LaPlante's move to Florida to be
permanent. DSMF ¶ 29; PRDSMF ¶ 29. She drove to
Florida with her friend and after arriving, stayed with that
friend for a couple of days.PRDSMF ¶ 28. However,
after a couple of days of living with her friend, she called
one of her former roommates who lived in Davenport, Florida,
and moved in with him instead. PRDSMF ¶ 28. In November
2009, Ms. LaPlante registered an address change with the
United States Postal Service from Bar Harbor, Maine, to her
roommate's address in Davenport, Florida. DSMF ¶ 28;
PRDSMF ¶ 28.
November 2009, Ms. LaPlante obtained employment at a
restaurant in Orlando. DSMF ¶ 28; PRDSMF 28. At some
point prior to the end of 2009, she moved into an apartment
in Kissimmee, Florida, with five female co-workers in order
to be closer to work. DSMF ¶ 30; PRDSMF ¶ 28. She
notified her parents of the move and reported the Kissimmee
address as her home address on her 2009 tax
return. DSMF ¶ 30; PRDSMF ¶ 30.
January 27, 2010, the day before the Accident, Ms. LaPlante
moved from Kissimmee to Orlando and registered her Orlando
address with the United States Postal Service. DSMF
¶¶ 31, 33; PRDSMF ¶¶ 31, 33. She moved to
Orlando to get away from the group with whom she was living
in Kissimmee and to have a quieter living
environment. PRDSMF ¶ 32. Her parents were not
aware of Ms. LaPlante's move to Orlando. DSMF ¶
33; PRDSMF ¶ 33.
Ms. LaPlante's move to Florida in October 2009 and the
Accident in January 2010, she did not return to Maine. DSMF
¶ 34; PRDSMF ¶ 34. According to Ms. LaPlante,
before the Accident, she was going to try to stay in Florida
to live and work there. DSMF ¶ 35; PRDSMF ¶ 35.
January 2010 - June 2010
Accident occurred on January 28, 2010, while Ms. LaPlante was
travelling as the passenger on a motorcycle. DSMF
¶¶ 36-37; PRDSMF ¶¶ 36-37. Ms. LaPlante
and the driver of the motorcycle had been dating since around
Christmas of the previous year. DSMF ¶ 36; PRDSMF ¶
the accident, Ms. LaPlante moved to Madeira Beach, Florida,
in March 2010. DSMF ¶ 37; PRDSMF ¶ 37. In
Madeira Beach, Ms. LaPlante signed a one-year lease on her
own apartment, paid a security deposit, and purchased some
essentials for the apartment, including a bed and bedding,
one or two pots and pans, dishes, and
silverware. DSMF ¶ 38; PRDSMF ¶38.
the Accident, Ms. LaPlante had no contact with her parents
until March 2010, and she did not inform her parents of the
Accident until June 2010. DSMF ¶ 39; PRDSMF ¶ 39.
Plaintiff continued living in Florida after the Accident
until approximately June 2010, when she relocated to
Maine. DSMF ¶ 40; PRDSMF ¶ 40.
her high school graduation and the Accident, Ms. LaPlante
says that she did not live with either or both of her parents
for an extended period other than the 2002-2003 stay with her
father; as recorded by her medical provider in 2012,
“She moved out of her mother's house at the age of
18.”,  DSMF ¶ 42; PRDSMF ¶ 42.
Since she ended the stay with her father in approximately
2003, Ms. LaPlante has never ...