Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable Jack L. Koehr.
Carl R. Gaertner, P.j., Kathianne Knaup Crane, J., and Lawrence G. Crahan, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gaertner
Plaintiff appeals from a summary judgment order entered by the trial court in favor of defendant, American Economy Insurance Company, after the court ruled that defendant Idan Gavrilovici was not an underinsured motorist as defined in plaintiff's motor vehicle insurance policy. We reverse.
Plaintiff, a St. Louis City Police Officer, was injured while on duty January 30, 1990. His police car was struck by a vehicle driven by defendant who ran a red light. Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for negligence and against his own insurance company, American Economy, for medical payments and underinsured motorist payments. Defendant Gavrilovici had liability insurance with limits of $25,000 per person in any one accident and $50,000 total per accident. Plaintiff had a single policy on two vehicles with underinsured motorist coverage on each vehicle for $25,000 per person in any one accident and $50,000 total per accident. Plaintiff alleged damages totaling $170,000.
On January 17, 1992, the trial court granted summary judgment in American Economy's favor on plaintiff's underinsured motorist claim. The January 17, 1992, order did not become final for appeal until September 15, 1992, when plaintiff and defendant Gavrilovici settled their claim for $25,000.
Plaintiff's insurance policy, issued by American Economy, provides uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to the named insured, his family members, and also to other persons occupying the insured automobile. The policy contains the following definition for an underinsured motor vehicle:"Underinsured motor vehicle means a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type to which a bodily injury, liability bond, or policy applies at the time of the accident but its limit for bodily injury liability is less than the limit of liability for this coverage."
American Economy argues that because Gavrilovici had liability with limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and because the declarations in its policy show identical limits for uninsured motorist coverage, Gavrilovici does not come within the policy definition of an underinsured motorist.
The declarations of American Economy's insurance policy reflect the following pertinent coverage and limit of liability MOTORIST
$25,000/per person/$50,000 per accident
Other pertinent provisions of the policy are as follows:
C. UNINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE
Part C., Uninsured Motorist Coverage is replaced in its entirety by the following:
We will pay damages which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury sustained ...