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Marcus Yano v. Government Employees Insurance Company

October 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway United States District Judge



This diversity case involves the question of whether Plaintiff Marcus Yano ("Marcus") was covered by the uninsured motorist ("UM") provisions of the automobile insurance policy his father had with Defendant Government Employees Insurance Company ("GEICO").*fn1 Two motions are before the court: GEICO's motion seeking summary judgment on all claims against it, and Marcus's motion seeking summary judgment with respect to his claim for declaratory relief.

Marcus was injured in an accident. Although renting his own apartment at the time, he sought UM benefits under his father's policy on the ground that he was related and a resident of his parents' household. Concluding that Marcus was not covered by the policy, the court grants GEICO's motion and denies Marcus's motion.


A. Background Information.

Marcus is the son of Michael and Jeanie Yano. Born in 1979, Marcus grew up in his parents' home in Mililani on the island of Oahu. After he married, Marcus lived with his first wife in their own place until he was deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard. By the time Marcus returned from Iraq in January 2006, he and his first wife were no longer together, and Marcus went back to living at his parents' home. Tr. of Recorded Interview of Marcus Yano ("Marcus Interview") at 2-8, Def.'s Ex. 7, ECF No. 47-108. For a few months, Marcus commuted from his parents' home to his job in downtown Honolulu. Then, in the spring of 2006, he began renting an apartment closer to work. Marcus Interview at 4; see also Rental Agreement, Def.'s Ex. 2, ECF No. 47-5.

Renting his own apartment meant that Marcus had to pay rent of $700 per month. He therefore could not save as much money toward his goal of purchasing his own home as he had been able to do while living at his parents' home. Marcus nevertheless considered the rent "worth avoiding the commute" between his parents' Mililani home and his job. That commute could "at times take up to three hours round trip." Pl.'s Aff. ¶¶ 14-17, ECF No. 51-1.

Even after he moved into his apartment on May 1, 2006, Marcus kept a key to his parents' home, where he "came and went freely." Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 18, ECF No. 51-1. His bedroom at his parents' room remained intact, with his bed, stereo, clothes, sports gear, computer, and military gear. Id. ¶ 15. Marcus visited his parents on most weekends, doing laundry, helping his father with yard work, showering, spending time with his parents, sometimes eating dinner there, and occasionally sleeping there. Id. ¶ 15-16. Most of his "important mail" went to his parents' home, including his voter registration, driver's license, vehicle registration, health insurance, military, and employment information. Id. ¶ 18.

On September 24, 2006, Marcus was riding his motorcycle when a car hit him. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Marcus says his parents offered to have him to stay at their home while he was recuperating from his injuries, but he declined. Am. Compl. ¶ 19.

Marcus filed a claim with the other driver's insurance company, Progressive Insurance Company, but the claim was denied because the other driver's policy had lapsed. See Letter from Progressive Denying Marcus's Claim, ECF No. 47-12. Marcus's motorcycle was also insured by Progressive at the time of the accident, but he had no UM coverage. Marcus Interview at 7, 12. At the time of the accident, Marcus also had two vehicles with underinsured coverage from USAA, but Marcus declined to indicate what, if any, contact he had with USAA concerning his accident. Id. at 12.

In early January 2008, Marcus submitted a claim for UM coverage under his father's insurance policy with GEICO. See GEICO's Letter to Marcus, ECF No. 47-6. GEICO responded with a letter stating that it was unable to confirm whether Marcus qualified for UM coverage as a resident relative of the named insured's. Id. GEICO interviewed Marcus with his attorney on March 17, 2008. Def.'s Ex. 7, ECF No. 47-10. On March 28, 2008, GEICO denied Marcus's UM claim on the ground that he was not covered by his father's policy. Def.'s Ex. 4, ECF No. 47-7.

Marcus filed the present case on December 9, 2011. On December 28, 2011, GEICO interviewed Michael Yano (Marcus's father) and Jeanie Yano (Marcus's mother). Def.'s Exs. 5 and 65, ECF Nos. 47-8 and 47-9.

Marcus is now married, and he and his second wife have a child. Tr. of Recorded Interview of Jeanie Yano ("Jeanie Interview") at 11, ECF No. 47-6. Marcus moved straight from the apartment he had been renting at the time of the accident to the home he and his family now occupy. Marcus Interview at 4. Even after he and his second wife had their son, Marcus kept some belongings at his parents' Mililani home. He still periodically receives mail there. Id. at 9-11.

B. The GEICO Policy.

The GEICO policy in issue lists Michael, Marcus's father, as the named insured and gives the Mililani home as his address. Def.'s Ex. 1, ECF No. 47-4. The policy period ran from May 1, 2006, to November 1, 2006. Id. The policy provides:

Under the Uninsured Motorist coverage, we will pay damages for bodily injury caused by accident which the insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle or hit-and-run auto arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of that auto.

Def.'s Ex. 1 at pp. 13-14 (policy page numbers at the bottom of the page), ECF 47-4. The policy defines an "insured" as:

(a) the individual named in the declarations and his spouse if a resident of the same household;

(b) relatives of (a) above if residents of his household;

(c) any other person while occupying an owned auto;

(d) any person who is entitled to recover damages because of bodily injury sustained by an insured ...

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