Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
SHANE S. TAYLOR, Respondent,
OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, Missouri The
Honorable Daniel F. Kellogg, Judge
Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, and Cynthia L.
Martin and Gary D. Witt, Judges
King Mitchell, Presiding Judge
Taylor filed a petition for declaratory judgment seeking a
declaration that he is entitled to uninsured motorist
coverage (UM coverage) from the insurance policy of his
mother, Judy Taylor (Mother's Policy, or the Policy),
issued by Owners Insurance Company (Owners). Owners appeals
the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of
Taylor, and the denial of its own motion for summary
judgment. Because Mother's Policy did not provide UM
coverage to Taylor, we reverse. Moreover, because both
parties concede that identical issues govern the motions for
summary judgment filed by both sides and agree as to all
facts on which judgment was sought by both parties, no
purpose would be served by remand for reconsideration of
Owners's motion for summary judgment. Therefore, this
court reverses the trial court's judgment and enters
judgment in favor of Owners.
parties submitted the case to the trial court on stipulated
facts. Taylor was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle on
May 2, 2014, when he was struck by a 2000 Ford Focus,
operated by Rigoberto Cabrera, an uninsured motorist. Taylor,
whose actions did not contribute to cause the collision, was
severely injured and sustained damages in excess of $275,
time of the collision, Farm Bureau Town and Country Insurance
Company of Missouri (Farm Bureau) had issued two policies in
the names of Taylor and his wife, Elicia; the first Farm
Bureau policy covered the motorcycle, as well as another
vehicle owned by the couple, while the second policy covered
the couple's third vehicle. The Farm Bureau policies
contained UM coverage for up to $25, 000 per vehicle, and
Taylor has been paid the full aggregate policy limits of $75,
000 for the three vehicles insured by Farm Bureau.
issued Mother a policy listing the two vehicles that she
owned. Mother's Policy provides UM coverage with a limit
of $100, 000 per vehicle. Mother is the only person listed in
her Policy, though Taylor, who lives with Mother, is a
"relative" under Mother's Policy, which defines
relative as "a person who resides with you and who is
related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption." The
"UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE" endorsement in
Mother's Policy includes a "COVERAGE"
subsection that extends UM coverage "to a relative who
does not own an automobile." The UM endorsement in
Mother's Policy also includes subsections addressing:
"EXCLUSIONS" from coverage, "LIMIT[S] OF
LIABILITY, " and when "OTHER UNINSURED MOTORIST
COVERAGE" is primary or excess over coverage provided by
the UM endorsement.
filed a UM claim with Owners on Mother's Policy. Owners
denied Taylor's claim because he did not fall within the
COVERAGE subsection of the UM endorsement, as he owned an
automobile at the time of the accident. Taylor filed suit
seeking damages and a declaratory judgment that he had the
right to UM coverage under Mother's Policy. The parties
filed motions for summary judgment on stipulated facts, and
the trial court granted Taylor's motion and denied
Owners's motion. The trial court found Mother's
Policy to be "ambiguous as to the [UM] coverage provided
to 'relatives' of [Mother], " and accordingly
construed the Policy in favor of coverage. The trial court
determined that Taylor was entitled to aggregate coverage in
the amount of $200, 000 under the Policy, and entered
judgment against Owners in that amount.
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates there
is no genuine dispute about material facts and, under the
undisputed facts, the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Rule 74.04(c)(6); ITT Commercial Fin.
Corp. v. Mid-Am. Marine Supply Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371,
380 (Mo. banc 1993). An appellate court's review of a
motion for summary judgment is de novo.
ITT, 854 S.W.2d at 376. And where, as here, the
facts are stipulated, no deference is given to the trial
court's findings; the only question before the appellate
court is whether the trial court drew the proper legal
conclusions from the facts stipulated. White v. Dir. of
Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 308 (Mo. banc 2010).
two points,  Owners argues that the trial court
committed reversible error in denying its motion for summary
judgment and granting Taylor's motion because: (1) the UM
endorsement in Mother's Policy unambiguously limits
coverage to relatives who do not own an automobile, of which
Taylor owns three; and (2) if Taylor is entitled to coverage,
his recovery should be limited to $50, 000 because
Mother's Policy contains an exclusion limiting coverage
to $25, 000 per vehicle, the statutory minimum, for any
person operating an automobile not insured by Mother's
Policy. The first point is dispositive, requiring reversal,
and, therefore, we do not reach Owners's second point.
Appeal from the denial of summary judgment.
we note that, "[g]enerally, the denial of a motion for
summary judgment is not a final judgment that may be reviewed
on appeal." McGathey v. Matthew K. Davis Trust,
457 S.W.3d 867, 876 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015) (quoting Herring
v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 96 S.W.3d 893,
894 (Mo. App. W.D. 2002)). However, "[w]hen the merits
of that motion . . . are inextricably intertwined with the
issues in an appealable summary judgment in favor of another
party, then that denial may be reviewable." Lopez v.
Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 96 S.W.3d 891, 892 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2002). Here, the motions for summary judgment rely on
the application of the same law to stipulated facts in order
to answer two discrete questions: whether Taylor has UM
coverage under Mother's Policy, and, if so, whether such
coverage is subject to an exclusion limiting coverage to $25,
000 per vehicle. The motions are inextricably intertwined and
we will review both the grant and denial of summary judgment.
issue before this court is whether the Owners Policy is
ambiguous. When there is ambiguity in an insurance policy,
the Court must interpret the policy in favor of the insured.
Todd v. Mo. United Sch. Ins. Council, 223 S.W.3d
156, 160 (Mo. banc 2007). Courts will not, however, create
ambiguity in an otherwise unambiguous policy. Taylor v.
Bar Plan Mut. Ins. Co., 457 S.W.3d 340, 344 (Mo. banc
2015). "The general rules for interpretation of other
contracts apply to insurance contracts as well. The key is
whether the contract language is ambiguous or
unambiguous." Todd, 223 S.W.3d at 160 (quoting
Peters v. Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co., 853 S.W.2d 300,
301-02 (Mo. banc 1993)). "[W]here insurance policies are
unambiguous, they will be enforced as written."
Id. (quoting Rodriguez v. Gen. Accident Ins. Co.
of Am., 808 S.W.2d 379, 382 (Mo. banc 1991)).
"Whether an insurance policy is ambiguous is a question
of law." Id. (quoting Martin v. U.S.
Fidelity and Guar. Co., 996 S.W.2d 506, 508 (Mo. banc
is settled law that 'when analyzing an insurance
contract, the entire policy and not just isolated provisions
or clauses must be considered.'" Rice v. Shelter
Mut. Ins. Co., 301 S.W.3d 43, 47 (Mo. banc 2009)
(quoting Versaw v. Versaw, 202 S.W.3d 638, 643 (Mo.
App. S.D. 2006)). "If an entire policy is analyzed in
context and found to be unambiguous, i.e., its language is
plain, straightforward, and susceptible to only one meaning,
the rules of construction are inapplicable."
Id. (quoting Versaw, 202 S.W.3d at 643).
However, if there is duplicity, indistinctness, or
uncertainty in the meaning of the policy when it is read as a
whole, and "the policy is therefore open to different
constructions, " an ambiguity exists, and "the
policy 'will be interpreted in the manner that would
ordinarily be understood by the lay person who bought and
paid for the policy.'" Id. (quoting
Versaw, 202 S.W.3d at 643). "Conflicting
clauses in a policy should be reconciled so far as their
language reasonably permits; when reconciliation fails,
however, inconsistent provisions will be construed in favor
of the insured." Jones v. Mid-Century Ins. Co.,
287 S.W.3d 687, 692 (quoting Lutsky v. Blue Cross Hosp.
Servs., Inc. of Mo., 695 S.W.2d 870, 875 n.7 (Mo. banc
1985)). Generally, "'if a contract promises
something at one point and takes it away at another, there is
an ambiguity.'" Jones, 287 S.W.3d at 690
(quoting Seeck v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d
129, 133 (Mo. banc 2007)).
the UM endorsement in Mother's Policy contains six
subsections. The four relevant subsections include one
addressing "COVERAGE" (defining to whom and under
what circumstances Owners will pay compensatory damages for
bodily injuries caused by an uninsured motorist) and three
addressing: "EXCLUSIONS" (limiting the amount of
coverage in certain circumstances to the minimum amount
required by the Missouri Motor Vehicle Financial
Responsibility Law), "OTHER UNINSURED MOTORIST
COVERAGE" (addressing when the UM coverage in the
endorsement will be primary and when it will be excess as to
other applicable UM coverage), and "LIMIT OF
LIABILITY" (addressing when the Limit of Liability
stated in the Declarations for UM coverage applies). In its
motion for summary judgment, Owners argued that the language
of the COVERAGE subsection of the UM endorsement
unambiguously excludes Taylor from coverage because he owns
automobiles. In his response to Owners's motion and in
his own motion for summary judgment, Taylor argued that, even
if the COVERAGE subsection clearly excludes him, the
"LIMIT OF LIABILITY" and "OTHER UNINSURED
MOTORIST COVERAGE" subsections reasonably can be read as
providing coverage to relatives, without
exception. Therefore, Taylor argues these subsections
create an ambiguity, and the policy must be read to provide
coverage. In granting summary judgment to Taylor, the trial
court found that the UM endorsement was ambiguous. The basis
for this finding is not clear.