United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JONATHAN MARTINS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
VERMONT MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PARTIES' CROSS-MOTIONS
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a putative class action concerning the scope of coverage of
standard Massachusetts automobile policies. Jurisdiction is
based on diversity of citizenship.
Jonathan Martins alleges that defendant Vermont Mutual
Insurance Company improperly failed to pay damages for the
“inherent diminution in value” of his automobile
after an accident caused by one of its insureds.
“Inherent diminution in value” refers to the fact
that a vehicle involved in an accident typically has a lower
market value, even after repairs have been made, due to a
stigma attaching to such vehicles. Martins contends that an
insurer is required to compensate for such a loss under Part
4 of the 2008 Standard Massachusetts Automobile Policy.
has filed a motion for partial summary judgment, essentially
seeking a declaration that Vermont Mutual is required to pay
inherent diminution in value damages to third-party
claimants. Vermont Mutual has filed a cross-motion for
summary judgment, contending that it has no such obligation.
following reasons, the Court concludes that Part 4 of the
Standard Massachusetts Automobile Policy does not provide
coverage for inherent diminution in value, and therefore
summary judgment will be granted for Vermont Mutual on all
18, 2016, Jonathan Martins purchased a 2015 Nissan Altima for
$20, 472.00. (Pl. Ex. 1).
January 23, 2017, Martins's vehicle was damaged when it
collided with a vehicle being driven by Elhadjmamado Dansoko.
(Pl. SUF ¶ 9). At the time of the collision, Dansoko was
insured under a policy issued by Vermont Mutual Insurance
Company. (Pl. SUF ¶ 17).
policy provided coverage for the period from January 20,
2017, to January 20, 2018. (Murray Aff. Ex. 2). The policy
used the 2008 edition of the Standard Massachusetts
Automobile Insurance Policy. (Id. Ex. 3). Part 4 of
the standard policy, titled “Damage to Someone
Else's Property, ” provided that the insurer would
pay damages to someone else whose auto or other property is
damaged in an accident. The damages we will pay are the
amounts that person is legally entitled to collect for
property damage through a court judgment or settlement. . . .
Damages include any applicable sales tax and the costs
resulting from the loss of use of the damaged property.
(Id. Ex. 3 at 13).
reported the accident to his insurer, Safety Insurance
Company. Safety paid Martins $11, 711.80 to cover the full
costs of repairs to his vehicle. (Pl. SUF ¶¶ 19,
20; Murray Aff. Ex. 1).
February 2017, Safety presented a subrogation claim to
Vermont Mutual for the repairs to the vehicle. (Murray Aff.
Ex. 1). After determining that Dansoko was liable for the
accident, Vermont Mutual paid Safety $12, 942.80, which
included $11, 711.80 for repairs, $331 for towing and
storage, and $900 for a rental car. (Pl. SUF ¶¶ 11,
26, 2017, an attorney for Martins sent a letter to Vermont
Mutual demanding payment of $6, 129.00 for the
“inherent diminished value” of the car. (Pl. SUF
¶ 21-22; Michelle Martin Aff. ¶ 4). On July 11,
2017, Michelle Martin, a Vermont Mutual Senior ...