Rockwood v. Uninsured Employers

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Rockwood Casualty Insurance Co. v. Uninsured Employers Fund No. 34, September Term 2004 WORKERS COM PENSA TION IN SURANCE; Actual Notice of Cancellation Required § 19-406 (a) of the Insurance Article permits an insurer to choose whether to serve notice of cancellation of workers compensation insurance by personal delivery or by certified mail. Service by certified mail, however, is not complete upon mailing. The statute contemplates actual delivery of notice. WORKERS COM PENS ATIO N INS URA NCE ; Rebuttab le Presum ption of D elivery The burden of proving notice is on the insurer. If the insurer can show that it mailed the n otice by certified mail to the last known address of the employer, as stated in the statute, the insurer en joys a rebuttable presum ption th at the no tice actu ally arrived . WORKERS COMPEN SATION INSUR ANCE; Notice in the Case of Corporations or Partnerships Notice in th e case of a n employer th at is a corporation may be given to the employer pu rsuant to § 19-406 (a) of the Insu rance Article, or to an agen t or officer upon w hom lega l process may be served, pursuant to § 19-406 (b ) of the Insu rance Ar ticle. Notice in the case of an emplo yer that is a partnership may be given to the employer pursuant to § 19-406 (a) of the Insurance Article or to a partner, pursuant to § 19-4 06 (b). In the Circu it Court for W orcester Co unty Case No. 23-C-01-000835 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 34 September Term, 2004 ______________________________________ ROCKWOOD CASUALTY INSURANCE CO. v. UNINSURED EMPLOYERS FUND ____________________________________ Bell, C.J. Raker Wilner Cathell Harrell Battaglia Greene, JJ. ______________________________________ Opinion by Greene, J. Bell, C .J., joins in th e jud gme nt on ly ______________________________________ Filed: February 8, 2005 Rockwood Casualty Insurance Company ( Rockwood ) issued a workers compensation policy to the Carousel Hotel ( Carousel ) in October of 1997. Thereafter, Carousel failed to pay the premiums, prompting Rockwood to mail a Notice of Cancellation ( notice ) to Caro usel on Dece mber 2 0, 1997 . On Ma rch 7, 1998, one of C arousel s employees sustaine d a wo rk-relate d injury. The employee filed a claim with the Workers Compensation Commission ( Commission ) and impled the Uninsured Employers Fund ( UEF ). The Commission found the employee s claim legitimate and concluded that Rock wood should pay. The issue before this Court is whether the notice mailed by Rockwood to Carousel complied with the statutory requirements found in Md. Code (1997, 20 02 Rep l. Vol.), § 19406 of the Insurance Article Within that issue reside two questions: (1) Does the statute require actual notice or is service complete upon mailing, and (2) If the employer is a corporation or partnership, does the statute require the insurer to give notice to an agent or officer of the corpora tion or to a pa rtner, or is notice addressed to the entity suffic ient? We hold that the notice mailed in this case did not comp ly with the statutory requireme nts and that, therefore, Rockwood s attempt to cancel Carousel s insurance failed. FACTS In October of 1997, Rockw ood issued a worke rs compe nsation insu rance polic y to Carousel with coverage from December 23, 1997, through December 23, 1998.1 1 On We note that the Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance Information Page notes Carousel Hotel as the insured, located at 11700 Coastal Highwa y, Ocea n City, M aryland. December 30, 1997 , Rockw ood sent a Notice of Cancellatio n to Carou sel by certified m ail, cancelling the policy for failure to pay premiums, effective February 2, 1998. The notice was addressed simply to the Carousel Hotel, 11700 Costal Highw ay, Ocea n City, M d. 2184 2. Rockwood also mailed a copy of the notice to C arousel s insu rance age nt in Willards, Md. 21878. Both parties agree that the post office failed to produce evidence that the notice had been picked up or delivered to Carousel. The Mail Loss/Rifling Report of the USPS notes no record of deliv ery. In addition, the certified mail return receipt, dated July 1998, states no record of delivery. On February 27, 1998, Rockwood conducted an insurance cance llation au dit of C arouse l s recor ds at the hotel. On March 7, 1998, Genora Hodge, a Carousel employee, sustained a work-related injury, prompting her to file a workers compensation claim. Rockwood argued that Carousel was uninsured because Rockwood had sent a proper notice, cancelling the insurance before the injury occurred . As a result, the employee asserted a claim against the UEF. The Commission found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury and that Rockwood was resp onsible to pay. The Commission determined that Rockwood had issued a workers compensation policy to Carousel and that Rockw ood s notic e did not comp ly with the statutory requirements. Consequently, Rockwood had not successfully cancelled Carou sel s insu rance b efore th e injury to M s. Hod ge occ urred. Rockwood sought judicial review in the Circuit Court for Worcester County. Both Rockwood and UEF filed motions for summary judgment on the question of whether -2- Rockwo od s notice was effective. On January 6, 2003, the Circuit Court for Worcester Cou nty, Judge Eschen burg presiding, granted U EF s motion, affirm ing the Commission. Rockwood appealed and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed in an unreported opinion. We granted certiorari. Rockwood Casualty Ins. Co. v. Hodge, 381 Md. 674, 851 A.2d 594 (2004). 2 STANDARD OF REVIEW Under Md. R ule 2-5 01 (e), summary judgment may be granted if the motion and response show that t here is no genuine disp ute a s to any material fact and that the party in whose favor judgment is entered is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When making a summary judgment decision, the trial court must not determ ine any d isputed facts. Rather, considering the undisp uted mate rial facts, the court m ust decide if the movin g party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. William s v. Baltim ore, 359 Md. 101, 114, 753 A.2d 41, 48 (2000 ) (internal citations omitte d). We rev iew the gra nt of sum mary judgm ent de novo. Walk v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 382 Md. 1, 14, 852 A.2d 98, 105 (2004). Whether the circuit court prop erly granted sum mary judgm ent is a quest ion of la w. Id. We must decide if the tria l court s decisio n was legally co rrect. Id. In making that decision, we must independently review the record to determine if a genuine dispute of materia l fact ex ists. Id. We only proceed to the question of law if there 2 We also granted the motion of UE F to chang e the caption of this case to : Rockwood Casualty Ins. Co. v. Uninsured Employers Fund. -3- is no genuine dispute of fac t. Jurgensen v. New Phoenix Atlantic Condominium, 380 Md. 106, 114, 843 A.2d 865, 869 (2004 ). In so doing, we construe the facts properly before the court, and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. DISCUSSION Rockwood argues § 1 9-406 of the Insuran ce Article d oes not req uire actual notice. Moreover, Rockw ood argu es that § 19-406 gives the insurer the option, but does not require the insurer, to provide notice of cancellation to an agent or officer of an employer that is a corporation or to a partner if the employer is a partnership. By contrast, the UEF argues that the statute requires actual notice and requ ires the insurer to notify appropriate officials of corporate or partnership employers. The Court of Specia l Appeals held that the s tatute required Rockwood to send the notice by registered m ail, or to prove actual notice in some other way. The C ourt of Sp ecial App eals also held that Rockwood should have provided the notice to an age nt or of ficer of Carou sel Ho tel. The 1997 version3 of § 19-4 06 provid ed, in pertinen t part: (a) General requirements. An insurer may not cancel a workers compensation insurance policy befo re its expiratio n unless, at lea st 30 days before the date of ca ncellation, the insurer: (1) serves on the employer, by personal service or registered mail addressed to the las t know n addre ss of the emplo yer, a 3 The current version of this section of the code substitutes certified mail for registered mail in subsection (a)(1). T he legis lature m ade tha t chang e in 200 0. 2000 Md. Laws , Chap . 124. -4- notice of intention to cancel the policy; and (2) files a copy of the notice with the State Workers Compensation Commission. (b) Notice to corporations and partnerships. Notice under this section may be given: (1) if the employer is a corporation, to an agent or officer of the corporation on whom legal process may be served; and (2) if the employer is a partnership, to a partner. Md. Code (1997), §§ 19-406 (a), 19-406 (b) of the Insurance Article. In addition, Article 1 section 20 s tates in pertinen t part: The term registe red mail w hen used (1) in any section of this Code or of any code of public lo cal laws . . . inclu des and m ay be applied as the term certified mail. Both terms mean the uses, procedures, and fees provided and generally referred to by the United States Post Office Department. A provision in any such law, charter, resolution, ordinance, rule, regulation, or directive, for the use of on e type of such mail, may be in terpreted an d applied to authorize the use of the other type of such mail as an alternate. Md. Code (1957, 2001 Repl. Vol.), Art. 1 § 20.4 4 As noted in the opinion of the Court of Special Appeals, the Domestic Mail Manual issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS) describes registered mail as follows: Registered mail is the most secure service that the USPS offers. It incorporates a system of receipts to monitor the movement of the mail from the point of acceptance to delivery. Registered mail provides the sender with a mailing receipt and, upon request, electronic verification that an article was delivere d or tha t a delive ry attemp t was m ade. Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), S911, § 1.1, available at http://pe.usps.gov/ text/dmm /s911.htm . In addition, the Domestic Mail Manual, in relevant part, describes certified mail as follows: Certified mail service provides the sender with a mailing receipt and, upon request electronic verification that an article w as delivered or that a delivery attempt w as made . . . . C ertified mail is d ispatched a nd hand led in transit -5- As noted by this Court in Oaks v. Conners, 339 Md. 24, 35, 660 A.2d 423, 429 (1995): The cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the legislatu re. Fish Market v. G.A.A., 337 Md. 1, 8, 650 A.2d 705 (1994). See also Jo nes v. State, 336 Md. 255, 260, 647 A.2d 1204 (1994); Parrison v. State, 335 Md. 554, 559, 644 A.2 d 537 (19 94); Rose v. Fox Pool, 335 Md. 351, 358, 643 A.2d 906 (1994). The first step in determining legislative intent is to look at the statutory language and "[i]f the words of the statute, construed according to their common and everyday meaning, are clear and unambiguous and express a plain meaning, we will give effect to the statute as it is written." Jones, supra, 336 M d. at 261 , 647 A .2d 120 4. See also Parrison, supra, 335 Md. at 559, 644 A.2d 53 7; Rose, supra, 335 Md. at 359, 643 A.2 d 906; Outme zguine v. Sta te, 335 M d. 20, 41 , 641 A .2d 870 (1994 ). See also Greco v . State, 347 Md. 423, 429, 701 A.2d 419, 422 (1997) (noting that our goal is to give statutes their most reasonable interpretation, in accord with logic and common sense, and to avoid a construction not otherwise evident by the w ords actually used ); Frost v. State, 336 M d. 125, 137, 647 A.2d 1 06, 112 (1 994) (stating that we w ill seek to avo id statutory constructions that are illogical, unreasonable, or inconsistent with common sense ). In view of the plain langu age of A rticle 1 section 2 0, we ho ld that serving the notice by certified instead of registered mail was acceptable, even though the 1997 s tatute said registered mail. We d o not agree, however, that simply mailing the notice, whether or not it arrived , was su fficien t. The la nguag e of the statute im plies oth erwise . Section 19-406 o f the Insura nce Article requires the in surer to serve the employer w ith notice and gives the insurer two ways to accomplish service: personal service or service by as ordinary mail . . . . No insurance coverage is provided. Dom estic M ail Ma nual (D MM ), S912 , § 1.1, available at http://pe.usps.gov/ text/dmm /s912.htm . -6- certified mail. 5 To serv e is defined as, [t]o mak e legal delivery of (a notice or process) . . . [t]o present (a person) with a no tice or process as required by law . . . . Black s Law Dictionary 1399 (8 th ed. 2004). Th e term imp lies actual rece ipt. If the Legislature intended some lesser standard, it could have just required the insurer to send or mail the notice to the employer by regular mail. Instead, it requires the insurer to serve the notice by personal delivery or by certified m ail. See M oss v. P .A. Tru cking C o., 284 A.D. 675, 677 (N.Y. App. Div. 1954) (interpreting a statute requiring that notice of cancellation of workers compensation insurance be served on the employer and stating that [s]ervice must be personal service or service m ade by registere d mail. The exact langu age of the statute prohibits cancellation unless notice is served . This requirement has had a literal construction. ); 6 see also Mard irossian Fam ily Ente rprises v . Cleara il, Inc., 324 Md. 191, 5 By the express terms of the 1997 statute, the insurer has two methods to effectua te service of the notice of intention to cancel insurance. The insurer may serve the employer by means of personal delivery. In the alternative, th e insurer may elect to send notice by registered mail to the employer s last known address. In review of the predecessor sections of § 19-406 since 191 4, the statute ha s consistently required service of notice of cancellation by delivery to the em ployer or b y registere d letter. See 1914 Md. Laws, Chap. 800, § 30 ( Such notice shall be served on the employer by de livering it to him or by sending it by mail, by registered letter, addressed to the emp loyer at his or its last k nown place o f reside nce . . . ); Md. Code (1957), Art. 101, § 19 (e) (stating the same thing exactly); Md. Code (1957, 1991 Supp.), Art. 48A, § 482 H ( An insurer may not cancel a workers compensation insurance policy . . . un less . . . the insurer: (1) Serves on the employer, by personal service or registered m ail addressed to the last known resident address of the employer, a notice of intention to cancel the policy . . . ). The compara ble section in the 1997 version changes nothing except to remove the word resident from the phrase last known resident address of the e mployer . Md . Code (1997 ), § 19-4 06 (a) (1 ). 6 Cf. Youn g v. State Farm Mutu al Auto mobile Insura nce C o., 213 A.2d 890, 891 (D.C. 1965) (discussing a case in w hich the insu rance polic y provided tha t mailing of the notice of cancellation was sufficient proof of notice and holding that proof of mailing without proof of actual delivery was acceptable for cancelling insurance in su ch a case); Seaboa rd Mut. Casualty Co. v. Pro fit, 108 F.2d 597, 599 (4th Cir. 1940) (also holding that proof of mailing without actual proof o f delivery is enough if the insuranc e policy so provides). -7- 200, 596 A.2d 1018, 1022 (1991) (discussing a statute that permitted notice by certified mail, return receipt requested and noting that [i]n no case, either before or after registered or certified mail was specifically authorized as a vehicle for giving the required notice, have we ever found a mailed notice effective where there was no delivery of that mail ); State v. Barnes, 273 Md. 195, 209, 328 A.2d 737, 746 (1974) (involving a request for final disposition of a murder indictment and stating, that [t]he only logical purpose to be served by directing that th e notice be d elivered by certif ied mail is to provide c orroboratio n for bald assertions of having given such notice and a means of tracing and establishing the date of receipt should a dispute co ncerning the delivery of notice arise ). We note that the U SPS def initions of bo th registered a nd certified m ail include statements that the sender of either type of mail can obtain verification of delivery upon request. In fact, Rockwood admits in its brief that the primary purpose behind the requirement of registered mail is to ensure delivery and to ea sily determine the date of delivery[.] [C]ertified mail fulfills this purp ose becau se it allows fo r a receipt of delivery. (Empha sis added.) In the case at b ar, such a req uest appare ntly was not made until months after the notice w as mailed and never delivered. Moreover, paragraph (d) of § 19-406 requires the employer to secure other insurance coverage [w]henever an employer receives a notice under this section. Md. Code (1997, 2002 Repl. Vol.), § 19-406 (d) of the Insurance Article. (Em phasis add ed.) It is clear that th e Legislatu re s purpos e in passing § 19-406 was to ensure that employers actually receive notice before coverage is cancelled, so that employers have the opportunity to secure other insurance coverage. Considering that purpose assists our interp retation of th e notice req uirements o f the statute. A s stated in Kaczorowski v. Mayor of Baltimore, 309 Md. 505, 516, 525 A.2d 628, 633 (1987), when determining the context of a statute, legislative purpose is critical, that purpose must be discerned in light of context, and that statutes are to be construed reasonab ly with reference to the purpose to be accomplished . . . . The purpose, in short, determined in light -8- of the statute s context, is the key. And that purpose becomes the context within which we ap ply the pla in-mea ning ru le. (Quoting Potter v. Be thesda Fir e Dept., 309 M d. 347, 3 53, 524 A.2d 6 1, 64 (1 987).) In addition to the plain langu age of the statute, preced ent from th is Court supports our interpretation that the insurer must prove that it complie d with the s tatutory requirem ents of serving the employer with notice of the termination of coverage, before an attempted termination is effec tive. Discussing the pur pose of th e Work ers Com pensation A ct,7 we stated in Polom ski v. May or & City Council o f Baltim ore, 344 Md. 70, 684 A.2d 1338 (1996): In reality, the Act protects employees, emplo yers, and th e public alike. To be sure, the Act maintains a no-fault compensation system for employees . . . . At the same time, how ever, the Act also recogn izes the need to protect em ployers from the unpredictable nature and expense of litigation, and the public from the overwhelming tax burden of caring for the helpless human wreckage found [along ] the trail o f mod ern ind ustry. Polom ski, 344 Md. at 77, 684 A.2d at 1341 (quoting Liggett & Meyers Tobacco Co. v. Goslin, 163 Md. 74, 80, 160 A. 804, 807 (1932)). In addition, in Harris v. Board of Educ ation o f How ard C ounty, 375 M d. 21, 825 A .2d 365, (20 03), we sa id: We have frequently repeated and applied the statutory mandate that [t]he Workers' Compensation Act . . . should be construed as liberally in favor of 7 We recognize that § 19-406 of the Insurance Article is not a part of the Workers Compensation Act, which is loca ted in Title 9 of the L abor & E mployment Article. Nonetheless, as it is clearly a related statute, we think a brief discussion of it illuminates the case at bar. The commonsensical approach to interpreting statutes includes a review of the general statutory scheme in which the statute in questio n is fou nd. Frost v . State, 336 Md. 125, 137-38, 647 A.2d 106, 112 (1 994). We do not read statutory language in isolation or out of context [but construe it] in light of the legislature s general purpose and in the context of the statute as a whole. Forbes v. Harleysville Mutual, 322 Md. 689, 696-97, 589 A.2d 944, 948 (199 1). Contex t may include related statutes , pertinent legisla tive history and other material that fairly bears on the . . . fundamental issue of legislative purpose or goal . . . . GEICO v. Insurance Commissioner of the State of Maryland, 332 Md. 124, 132, 630 A.2d 713, 717 (1993) (quoting Kaczorowski v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 309 Md. 505, 51 5, 525 A .2d 628 , 632-3 3 (198 7)). -9- injured employees as its provisions will permit in order to eff ectuate its benevolent purposes. Any uncertainty in the law should be resolved in favor of the claimant." Harris, 375 Md. at 57, 825 A.2d at 387 (quoting Baltimore v. Cassidy, 338 Md. 88, 97, 656 A.2d 7 57, 761 -62 (19 95)). In this case, interpreting the statute to require insurers to prove that they served the employers with notice as required by the statute protects injured claimants. Such an interpretation guarantees advance notice of the loss of coverage to employers and provides them a n oppo rtunity to se cure oth er cove rage fo r the ben efit of th eir emp loyees. In Pressman v. State Accident Fund, 246 Md. 406, 228 A.2d 443 (1967), we discussed the cancellation provisions of a statute similar to the one before us in the instant case.8 In Pressman, the issue be fore the C ourt was w hether the in surer had e ffectively can celled its covera ge. Pressman, 246 Md. at 408, 228 A.2d at 445. We said: The statute requires notice both to the Commission and the employer and specifies the mode of serving notice on the employer by delivery or by registered letter and spells out the reason for notice to the employer so that when an employer receives notice he shall immediately secure proper comp ensatio n cove rage fo r his em ployees. Pressman, 246 Md. at 412, 228 A.2d at 447. We also noted that statutory procedures for 8 The statute discussed in Pressman was Md. Code (1957, 1964 Repl. Vol.) Art. 101 § 77 (a), the sec tion of the code that discussed the method of cancellation of workers compensation insurance for the State Accident Fund. Pressm an, 246 Md. at 410, 228 A.2d at 446. Like the statute before us, the statute in Pressman required the insurer (the Fund) to serve notice of cancellation on the em ployer by deliverin g it to him or by sending it by mail by re gistered letter. Id. The statute at issue in the case at bar controls notice of cancellation by insurers other than the Injured W orkers Insu rance Fu nd (form erly the State Accident Fund). Consequently, the discussion in Pressman is releva nt. -10- cancelling workers compen sation insura nce mus t be strictly complie d with in o rder to achieve a valid c ancella tion. Id. (citing Moore v. London Guarantee & Acciden t Co., 233 Md. 425, 428 -29,197 A .2d 132, 13 4 (1963)); see also Passmore v. Austin, 253 P.2d 800, 804 (Idaho 1953) (noting that strict compliance with the statute is mandatory in order to cancel a workers compensation insurance policy); Preferred Acc. Ins. Co. of New York v. Van Dusen, 210 P.2d 341, 344 (Okla. 1949) (discussing a statute similar to the one at bar and noting that the metho d of ca ncellatio n prov ided by th e statute is mand atory, and must b e strictly complied with in all respects in order to relieve an insurance company from liabi lity under a Wor kers C ompe nsation policy). Pressman did not answer the specific question of whether actual n otice w as requ ired. See Pr essma n, 246 Md. at 413-14, 228 A.2d at 448 (stating that the statute would seem to co ntemplate that there must be an actual receipt of notice of cance llation by the insu red but w e need no t decide the p oint . . . and noting that in that case there was no proof th at the notice w as delivered or sent by an ap propriate method). Nonetheless, its language and reasoning supports such a conclusion. In State Accident Fund v. Gardner, 81 Md. App. 646, 569 A.2d 216 (1990), the Court of Special A ppeals addressed the same statute that we reviewed in Pressm an. In Gardner, the State Accident Fund sent a notice of cancellation to the employer s agent by certified mail. Gardner, 81 Md. App. at 647, 569 A.2d at 217. The Fund did not send a notice to the employer, as required by the statute . Id. The employer s agent, however, claimed in an affidavit that he h ad han d-deliv ered the notice to the em ployer. Id. The employer, in his -11- affidavit, denied ever receiving the notic e. Id. The trial court granted summary judgment to the employer, holding that the cancella tion was in effective b ecause it w as not maile d to the emplo yer, as requ ired by the statute. Id. The Court of Special Appea ls reversed a nd held that although th e notice was not mailed in strict compliance with the statute, there was evidence from which a fact finder could find that the notice was received by the employer. Thus there was a genuine dispute as to a material fact and therefore summary judgment was inappropriate. Gard ner, 81 Md. App. at 648, 569 A.2d at 217. In making that decision, the Court of Special Appeals discussed the requirements of the statute and noted that its purpose is to get the notice of the cancellation to the employer so he or she will imme diately secure proper compensation coverage to replace tha t which is to be cancelled. Gard ner, 81 Md . App. at 6 52, 569 A.2d at 219. T hat statemen t is consistent with our view of the purpose of § 19-406, as stated previou sly in this opinion. It is also consiste nt with ou r view that a ctual notice is required by the statute. The question of whether evidence of mailing by certified mail (without evidence of receipt) is sufficient to prove notice was not before the intermediate appellate court in Gardner. Regarding actual notice, however, the court stated that mailing a notice to the employer s agent without proof of actual notice to the employer does not satisfy the requirements of the statute. Gardner, 81 Md. App. at 653, 569 A.2d at 220. In addition to our conclusion that the statute requires actual notice to the employer before a cancellatio n is effectiv e, we also h old that if the insurer can show that it mailed the -12- notice by certified mail to the last known address of the employer, as stated in the statute, the insurer enjoys a presumption that the notice actually arrived. A s noted in Fidelity Ca sualty Co. of New York v. Riley, 168 Md. 430 , 178 A. 250 (19 35), while discussing a case involving notice of ca ncel latio n of an in sura nce p olicy and registered mail, . . . in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption is that the postal officials and employees did what the law required of them. Riley, 168 Md. at 433, 178 A. at 252; see also Kolker v. Biggs, 203 Md. 137, 144, 99 A.2d 743, 746 (1953) ( noting that it is an established rule of evidence that the testimony of a witness that he properly addressed, stamped, and mailed a letter raises a presumption that it reached its destination at the regular time and was received by the person to whom it w as addressed ). The presumption, howe ver, is reb uttable. See Williams v. Storms, 835 So.2 d 755, 76 1 (La. Ct. A pp. 2002 ) (Noting th at [i]n a can cellation of insurance case, the burden of proof first rests upon the insurer to prove by prima fac ie evidence proof of ma iling of n otice to th e insure d. Where the insurer meets the burden of proof, a presum ption of de livery is established, which then may be rebutted by the insured by proof of nonde livery. ). In the case at bar, there was evidence presented (albeit by Rockwood themselves) that the notice was never delivered to the employer. In such a case, the presumption that the notice actually arrived is rebutted. As stated in Pressman, [i]t is generally held that the burden of provin g notice is on him who must give it. Pressman, 246 Md. at 413, 228 A.2d at 447. Rather than meet that burden, as noted previously, Ro ckwoo d attached tw o exhibits -13- to its Motion for Summary Judgment that tend to prove otherwise. The Mail Loss/Rifling Report of the USPS notes no record of delivery. In addition, the certified mail return receipt, dated July 1998, states no record of delivery. There was no record of delivery of the notice by the post office to Carous el and Rockwood knew that when it received the certified mail retu rn recei pt. If the presumption that the properly-addressed letter arrived is rebutted, the insurer must then prove by other eviden ce that the employer received actual notice, or that the employer intentionally refu sed to receive the notice, amounting to an evasion of service.9 No 9 Although the facts are not before us in this case, we think it necessary to mention that § 19-406 is silent regarding how to notify an employer that is evading service. Because the statute fails to give any clear direction to th e insurer ab out how to proceed in terminating the policy, particularly in non-payment of premium situations, we encourage the Legisla ture to re-examine this fairly ancient s tatute. It may be tha t the Legislatu re intended to leave the matter for resolution by the parties pursuant to the express terms of the contract of insurance. Unf ortunate ly, if that was the intention o f the Leg islature, it is not contained in the language of the statu te. In addition, the statute is unclear whether the General Assembly intended that notice to a non-paying insured be treated in a manner like Md. Rule 2-121(b) (ProcessServic e-In-pe rsonam ) (Evas ion of s ervice) . In view of o ur holding that the statute re quires actual notice, we note that in such a case, deliberate ignorance or intentional avoidance of notice is the equivalent of actual notice. See State v. McCallum, 321 Md. 451, 458, 583 A.2d 250, 253 (1991) (per curiam) (Chasanow, J., concurring ) (discussing a case in which the defendant s intentional avoidance of notice of a suspension of his license could be considered the equivalent of actual knowledge of the suspension, sufficient to find the required mens rea for a conviction of driving while suspended). To hold otherwise would lead to the absurd result that an employer could avo id losing insurance simply by continually evading service of the notice. See Th anos v . State, 332 Md. 511, 632 A.2d 768, 774 (1993) (noting the familiar rule of statutory construction that whenever possible an interpretation should be given to statutory language which will not produce an illogical or unreasonable resu lt or lead to absurd (contin ued...) -14- such proof w as offered by Rockw ood in this case . The undisputed material facts in this case show that Rockwood failed to prove that it provided notice as required by the statute, entitling UEF to summary judgment on that issue.10 There can be no presumption of receipt of notice where the undisputed evidence show s that ther e wa s no d elive ry. In support of its argument that § 19-406 of the Insu rance Article does no t require actual notice, Rockwood relies on COMAR 14.09.01.04 (B)(3), arguing that it supports the notion that service by mail ough t to be com plete upon mailing.11 This section of COMAR is located in T itle 14 - Indep endent A gencies, Su btitle 9 - Workers Compensation 9 (...continued) consequences ). 10 In a case where the insurer has proof of mailing the notice by certified mail to the last known address and the employer presents evidence that the notice was never received, the case could not be reso lved by sum mary judgm ent becau se a materia l fact wou ld be in dispute. See G ardne r, 81 Md. App. at 648, 569 A.2d at 217 (holding that summary judgment was inappropriate where there was a factual disp ute over whether the employer actually received the notice); see also Williams, 835 So.2d at 761 (discussing a case involving notice of cancellation of an automobile insurance policy and stating that if an insured files an affidavit denying delivery of th e notice of cancellation , a genuine issue of m aterial fact is raised a nd sum mary jud gmen t should not be g ranted) . 11 The section states: Service may be made by delivery of a copy or by mailing it to the address most recently stated in a paper filed by the party or attorney, or if not stated, to the last known ad dress. Delivery of a copy m eans han ding to the p arty or atto rney, or leaving it at that person s office with an individual in charge, o r, if there is no one in charge, leaving it in a conspicuous place in the office, or, if the office is closed or the person has no office, leaving it at the person s usual place of residence with an individual of suitable age and discretion residing there. Service by mail is complete upon mailing. -15- Commission, Chapter 01 - Procedural Regulations. The writers of COMAR note at the beginning of Chap ter 01 that the a uthority for the re gulations in th is chapter is derived from the Labor & Employment Article. Specifically noted among others, are §§ 9-309 and 9-6A07 of the Labor & Employment Article. Section 9-309 gives the C ommissio n the pow er to adopt regulations to carry out Title 9 of that Article. Md. Code (1991, 1999 Repl. Vol.), §9309 of the Labor & Employment Article. Section 9-6A-07 gives the Commission the power to adopt regulations to carry out subtitle 6A of Title 9. Md. Code (1 991, 199 9 Repl. Vol.), §9-6A-107 of the La bor & E mploymen t Article. By con trast, there is no similarly empowering provision lo cated in Title 19, Subtitle 4 of the Insurance Article. As previously noted, the cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the legis lature. O Connor v. Baltimore County, 382 Md. 102, 113, 854 A.2d 1191, 1198 (2004). Relying on a regulation promulgated with authority from the Labor and Employment Article does not a ssist the Cou rt in determin ing the Le gislature s intent when passing a statute located in the Insurance Article. Furthermore, it is clear from the context of the COMAR provision in question that the section relied upon by Rockwood pertains to claims filed with the Commission and not to notices of cancellation of insurance.12 Rockwood also argues that even if actual notice of cancellation is required by the 12 We note also that the Comm ission in this ca se found that Rock wood d id not com ply with § 19-406, despite the COMAR provision relied upon by Rockwood. While we do not know if Rockwood made the C OMAR argument before the Commission, we assume the Commission is aware of its own regulations and still decided that Rockwood s notice was not effective. We ordinarily show some deference to an agency's interpretation of its own regulati ons. MTA v. King, 369 Md. 27 4, 288-89, 799 A .2d 1246, 1254 (2 002). -16- statute, it complied with that provision by conducting an insurance aud it of the employer. As corr ectly n oted by the Cou rt of Spe cial A ppeals, th e aud it too k pla ce on ly two weeks before the injur y and mo re than th ree we eks afte r the attem pted da te of ca ncellatio n. Even if the audit could be considered actual notice to the employer, notice was not given in time. The statute requires that the employer receive thirty days notice before a cancellation. Md. Code (1997 , 2002 R epl. Vo l.), § 19-4 06 (a) o f the Ins urance Article. In addition to its a rgumen t that actual no tice is required, UEF asserts that the s tatute requires the insurer to give notice to an agent or officer of an employer that is a corporation or to a partner of an employer that is a partnership. Rockwood argues that the Legislature has given insurers the option either to serve the notice on the employer, or if the employer is a corporation or a partnership, to serve an agent or officer of the corporation on whom legal process may be served or a partner. The Court of Special Appeals held that the notice must be provided to any principal of the policyholder or to an agent or officer of the entity upon whom process could be served. In view of our ho lding that the n otice in this case did not comply with the statute (because there was evidence that it was never delivered), we do not need to address UEF s additional argument. We will discuss it briefly, however, because th e parties raise it an d the statute ad dresses it. As previously no ted, the cardin al rule of statu tory interpretation is to ascertain the intention of the le gislature . Oaks, 339 Md. a t 35, 660 A.2d a t 429. We determine intent by reviewing the statutory language and [i]f the words of the statute, constru ed accord ing to -17- their common a nd everyday meaning, are clea r and una mbiguo us and ex press a plain meaning, we will give effect to the statute as it is written. Oaks , 339 Md. at 35, 660 A.2d at 429 (quoting Jones v. Sta te, 336 Md. 255, 261, 647 A.2d 1204, 1206-7 (1994)). Section 19-406 (b) of the Insurance Article Notice to corp oration s and p artners hips, states: Notice under this section may be given: (1) if the employer is a corporation, to an agent or officer of the corporation on whom legal process may be served; and (2) if the employer is a partnership, to a partner. (Empha sis added.) The commonly understood meaning of the word may is has discretion to; is permitted to. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 552 (2nd ed. 1995). It does not mean must. See Heery Intern., Inc. v. Montgomery C ounty, 2004 WL 2775915, at *10 (noting the difference betw een the permissive term may and the man datory term must ); Livesay v. B altimore C ounty, 384 Md. 1, 16, 862 A.2d 33, 42 (200 4) (statin g tha t [m ]ay is generall y interpreted as permissive, in contrast with shall, which is interpreted as mandatory ). We w ill not substitute a different word or meaning for the word chosen by the Legisla ture. It appears that the Legislature has given insurers the option either to serve the notice on the employer, under § 19-4 06 (a) (1), or if the employer is a corpora tion or a partnership, to serve an agent or officer of the corporation on whom legal process may be served or a partner. See Con klin v. Byram House R estaurant, Ltd., 32 A.D. 2d 582, 583 (N.Y. App. Div 1969) (noting that the argument that the mailed notice must, in order to be -18- valid, be received by an agent or officer of the corporation upon whom legal process may be served . . . is in error, the provision . . . that the notice may be given to such a person clearly referring to the optional alternative of personal service of the notice, that is, when served on the employer by deliveri ng it to h im ), aff d on other grounds, 282 N.E.2d 884 (N.Y. 1 972). The term em ployer is not de fined in the statute. Both parties in the case at bar, however, refer to Carousel Hotel as the emplo yer. Whether Carousel Hotel is a corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, or sole proprietorship, the parties have not taken a position. Consiste nt with our construction of the notice provision, the legal structure of the entity is not controlling. Anyone authorized by the employer to receive the mail may accept delivery. Rockwoo d mailed the notice to the em ployer, as permitted by section 19-406 (a) (1). 13 As it turns out in this case, no one at Carousel Hotel received the notice that was mailed certified mail. If someo ne authoriz ed by Carou sel Hotel to receive the mail had accepted a nd signed for the mail and Rockwood could prove delivery by presenting the return receipt, the notice provisions of section 19-406 would have been satisfied.14 If the Legislature intended otherwise, it would have used the term shall instead 13 Rockwood entered into the agre ement fo r insurance with the Carousel Hotel. As previously noted, the Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance Information Page notes, simply Carousel Hotel as the insured. Rockwood mailed the notice of cancellation of that insurance policy to the Carousel Hotel. 14 See Employers Liability Assur. Corporation v. Perkins, 169 Md. 269, 280, 181 A. 436, 441 (1935) (stating that [r]egistered mail is delivered to the addressee by post in due (contin ued...) -19- of may. We disagree with UEF s a rgum ent th at the usua lly per miss ive te rm may should be construed in this case to mean must because of the context or purpose of the statute. As previously stated, the purpose of this statute is to make sure that employers receive notice of the loss of insurance so that they can obtain new insurance to cover injured employees. Pressman, 246 Md. at 412, 228 A.2d at 447. Interpreting the statute to require actual notice to the employer, which in this case was Carousel Hotel, the entity that entered into the agreement for insurance in the first place (and not necessarily to statutory agents, officers or partners of the em ployer) is consiste nt with that purpose without violating the plain language of the s tatute. CONCLUSION In conclusion, we hold that § 19-406 (a) permits an insurer to choose whether to serve notice of cancellation of insurance by personal delivery or by certified mail. Service by certified mail, however, is not complete upon mailing. The statute contemplates actual delivery of notice. We also hold that notice in the case of an employer that is a corporation or a partnership may be given to the employer pursuant to § 19-406 (a) or to an agent or 14 (...continued) course if received either by its addressee or by the add ressee s agent for that purpose. So, it follows th at whethe r the return rec eipt for the d elivery of registe red mail is signed by the addressee, or the addressee s name to the receipt is signed by his agent to receive the registered mail, the receipt is equally the receipt of the addressee. In either event there has been an actual delivery to the addressee and his retur n receip t obtaine d. ), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Sherwood Brands, Inc. v. Hartford Acc. and Indem. Co., 347 M d. 32, 41 , 698 A .2d 107 8, 1082 (1997 ). -20- officer upon whom legal proce ss may be serv ed pursua nt to § 19-406 (b). The notice mailed in this case did not comply with the statutory requirements of actual delivery and, therefore, Rockwood s attempt to cancel Carousel s insurance failed. JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS AFFIRMED. APPELLANT TO PAY COSTS IN COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS AND COURT OF APPEA LS. Chief Ju dge Bell joins in th e jud gme nt on ly. -21-