February 27, 2018
in each case, to recover underinsured motorist benefits
allegedly due under automobile insurance policies issued by
the defendant, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial
district of Danbury, where the cases were consolidated;
thereafter, the court, Truglia, J., granted
the defendant's motions for summary judgment in each case
and rendered judgments thereon, from which the plaintiff in
each case filed separate appeals. Reversed;
Wu, with whom were Cynthia C. Bott and, on the brief, James
D. Horwitz, for the appellants (plaintiffs).
R. Caruthers for the appellee (defendant).
Palmer, D'Auria, Mullins, Kahn and Vertefeuille, Js.
these appeals, we again consider whether an automobile
insurance policy containing underinsured motorist coverage,
as required by state law, can validly exclude benefits to the
insured when the owner of the underinsured vehicle is a
rental car company designated as a
‘‘self-insurer'' by the Insurance
Commissioner (commissioner) pursuant to General Statutes
§ 38a-371 (c). We first addressed this issue in
Orkney v. Hanover Ins. Co., 248 Conn. 195, 202-206,
727 A.2d 700 (1999), and upheld the validity of §
38a-334-6 (c) (2) (B) of the Regulations of Connecticut State
Agencies, which authorizes an exclusion from the underinsured
motorist coverage requirement for ‘‘uninsured or
underinsured vehicle[s] . . . owned by . . . a self-insurer
under any motor vehicle law . . . .'' We came to this
conclusion because self-insurers are statutorily required to
prove their ability to pay judgments when liable, rendering
underinsurance coverage unnecessary in those situations.
Orkney v. Hanover Ins. Co., supra, 204-206; see
General Statutes §§ 14-129 (b) and 38a-371 (c).
Therefore, we decided in Orkney that there was
‘‘nothing inconsistent between the public policy
underlying underinsured motorist coverage and a regulation
that permits a coverage exclusion'' for vehicles
owned by self-insurers. Orkney v. Hanover Ins. Co.,
factual setting in the present case is similar to that in
Orkney, but the legislative landscape has changed.
In both the present case and in Orkney, the
plaintiff insureds were injured by an underinsured lessee
driving a rental car owned by a self-insured rental car
company. See id., 197-99. The insureds were denied
underinsured motorist benefits under their policies because
those policies contained a self-insurer exclusion.
our decision in Orkney, however, Congress passed
legislation prohibiting rental car companies from being held
vicariously liable for the negligence of their lessees.
Specifically, Title 49 of the 2012 edition of the United
States Code, § 30106 (a), commonly known as the Graves
Amendment; see Rodriguez v. Testa, 296 Conn. 1, 4
n.2, 993 A.2d 955 (2010); makes rental car companies immune
from vicarious liability for injuries caused by their
underinsured lessees-even if a state has designated that
company as a self-insurer capable of providing a remedy.
Thus, under current law, when the plaintiffs in the present
case were denied underinsured motorist benefits pursuant to
their policies because of the self-insurer exclusion, they
were effectively left without a remedy because they are
precluded under the Graves Amendment from recovering from the
self-insured rental car company.
therefore asked in these appeals to reassess, in light of
this development in federal law, whether § 38a-334-6 (c)
(2) (B) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies,
which authorizes the self-insurer exclusions in these
insurance policies, remains valid as applied to rental car
companies. We conclude that, in this scenario, the state
regulation conflicts with the public policy manifested in
General Statutes § 38a-336 (a) (1) that requires
insurance policies to provide underinsured motorist coverage,
and, thus, § 38a-334-6 (c) (2) (B) of the regulations is
invalid as applied.
following undisputed facts and procedural history are
relevant to this appeal. The plaintiffs, Sandra and Patrick
Tannone, were lawfully crossing the street when they were
struck and seriously injured by an automobile. That
automobile was a rental car owned by EAN Holdings, LLC, more
commonly known as Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Enterprise).
Enterprise had leased the vehicle to Barbara Wasilesky, but
she was not driving at the time of the collision. The vehicle
was instead operated by a permitted user named Arthur
the lessee, was the named insured on an automobile insurance
liability policy that provided bodily injury coverage in the
amounts of $20, 000 per person and $40, 000 per
occurrence-the minimum allowable in Connecticut at the time.
General Statutes §§ 38a-336 (a) (1) and 14-112
The plaintiffs made a claim against Wasilesky, as the lessee,
and Huffman, as the vehicle operator, and the parties settled
for the full amount of coverage from Wasilesky's policy,
namely, $20, 000 each. Wasilesky and Huffman have no other
insurance coverage, and the plaintiffs claim that their
damages exceed what they recovered under Wasilesky's
time of the collision, the defendant, Amica Mutual Insurance
Company (Amica), insured the plaintiffs through separate
policies. Each of their policies carried $500, 000 of
coverage for personal injuries sustained due to the
negligence of an underinsured driver.This underinsured motorist
coverage, however, excluded from the term ‘‘
‘underinsured motor vehicle' '' any vehicle
‘‘[o]wned . . . by a self-insurer under
any applicable motor ...