Curry v. Trustmark Insurance Co., 020615 FED4, 13-1995
|Opinion Judge:||DIAZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE:|
|Party Name:||MARTIN JENNINGS CURRY, D.C., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TRUSTMARK INSURANCE COMPANY; CONTINENTAL ASSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants-Appellees.|
|Attorney:||Elijah Dale Adkins, III, SALSBURY, CLEMENTS, BEKMAN, MARDER & ADKINS LLC, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Jason Allen Walters, BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS, LLP, Birmingham, Alabama, for Appellees. Emily C. Malarkey, SALSBURY, CLEMENTS, BEKMAN, MARDER & ADKINS LLC, Baltimore, Maryland, for Ap...|
|Judge Panel:||Before GREGORY, AGEE, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||February 06, 2015|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit|
Argued: October 29, 2014
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. James K. Bredar, District Judge. (1:11-cv-02069-JKB)
Affirmed by unpublished opinion. Judge Diaz wrote the opinion, in which Judge Gregory and Judge Agee joined.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
Martin Curry filed a lawsuit contending that Trustmark Insurance Company breached the parties' contract by refusing to pay benefits to Curry under a disability insurance policy. The district court disposed of Curry's action at summary judgment on the basis that it was largely barred by Maryland's statute of limitations. On the portion of Curry's action that fell within the limitations period, the district court ruled against Curry on the merits. We affirm the district court's judgment based on our conclusion that Curry's suit is time-barred in its entirety.
Curry, a chiropractor operating his own practice, owned a disability insurance policy originally purchased from Continental Assurance Company and later assigned to Trustmark Insurance Company. In pertinent part, the policy provided that the insurance company would pay monthly benefits to Curry if a physical disability prevented him from working as a chiropractor. In order to determine Curry's eligibility for benefits, the policy also required him to submit written and continuing proof of loss and, if necessary, to submit to an independent medical examination ("IME").
In 2003, Curry injured his back while performing an adjustment on a patient. He underwent spinal surgery and applied for disability benefits in early 2004. Trustmark began paying benefits to Curry, subject to Curry's providing information regarding the extent of his injury, condition, and expected recovery. For the next three years, Trustmark paid Curry monthly benefits under his insurance policy, all while attempting to establish his continued disability. Although Curry provided some information related to his condition during those years, the information he provided was inconsistent and incomplete. Consequently, in July 2007, Trustmark notified Curry that it had discontinued his benefits, effective June 26, 2007, until it received the information it requested under the policy.
For the next year, Trustmark and Curry exchanged correspondence regarding the discontinuation of benefits and the scope of the information requested by Trustmark. During that period, Trustmark extended three additional months of benefits to Curry. Finally, in the spring of 2008, Trustmark requested that Curry undergo an IME to determine his continued eligibility for benefits. Curry refused to submit to the IME unless Trustmark paid him additional benefits that he alleged Trustmark owed. When Curry failed to attend the IME, Trustmark denied any additional benefits, effective June 30, 2008, and closed Curry's claim on September 29, 2008.
On July 27, 2011, Curry filed suit against Trustmark and Continental, alleging breach of contract. In ruling on Trustmark's motion for summary judgment, the district court determined that Curry's cause of action for breach of contract accrued anew each month benefits were not paid. Consequently, although the court concluded that Curry's action for breach between September 25, 2007, and July 27, 2008, was untimely under Maryland's three-year statute of limitations, it addressed on the merits all alleged monthly breaches occurring after July 27, 2008. Because it found no breach of contract in Trustmark's requirement that Curry submit to an IME and provide continuing proof of loss as a prerequisite for payment of his benefits, the district court granted summary judgment to the insurance companies.
We review de novo the district court's grant of summary judgment. Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Ben Arnold-Sunbelt Beverage Co. of S.C., 433 F.3d 365, 369 (4th Cir. 2005). We may uphold that decision on "any grounds apparent from the record." United States v. Smith, 395 F.3d 516, 519 (4th Cir. 2005).
In Maryland, a breach of contract action must be filed within three years of the date it accrues. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101.1 Typically, the period of limitations begins to run from the date of the alleged breach. See Jones v. Hyatt Ins. Agency, Inc., 741 A.2d 1099, 1104 (Md. 1999).
However, actions arising from "alleged breaches of a...
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