Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY Honorable Michael J.
Cordonnier, Circuit Judge
Steffen Rahmeyer, J
a case concerning the standing of a non-policy holder to
bring suit directly against an insurance company. Old
Missouri Mutual Insurance Company ("Respondent")
issued a policy of insurance ("policy") to Ronald
and Sharlene Blankenship with various coverages. In a section
titled "Farm Personal Liability Coverage, " the
policy provided coverage for liability ("Coverage
L") and for "necessary medical expenses, " or
med pay ("Coverage M"). Under Coverage L,
Respondent promised to "pay, up to our limit, all sums
for which an insured is liable by law because of bodily
injury or property damage caused by an occurrence to which
this coverage applies[, ]" and to "defend a suit
seeking damages . . . ." The long-standing rule in
Missouri is that an injured tort claimant is not a
third-party beneficiary of the alleged tortfeasor's
policy of liability insurance under which the insurer's
obligation to pay is triggered only after the
tortfeasor's liability to the tort claimant is
established by settlement or judgment. Desmond v.
American Ins. Co., 786 S.W.2d 144, 145-46 (Mo.App. W.D.
1989); Shelter Mutual Ins. Co. v. Bedell, 459 S.W.3d
524, 527 (Mo.App. S.D. 2015). In these circumstances, the
tort claimant's remedy is to obtain a settlement or
judgment against the alleged tortfeasor and then, if
necessary, collect the settlement or judgment from the
insurer through a garnishment proceeding. Desmond,
786 S.W.2d at 145.
Coverage M, Respondent promised to "pay the necessary
medical expenses if they are incurred or medically determined
within three years from the date of an accident causing
covered bodily injury[, ]" and the coverage
"applies only to . . . a person on the insured premises
with the permission of an insured . . . ." Where the
policy of liability insurance contains separate coverage for
the medical expenses of an injured party that is payable to
the injured party without regard to an insured's
liability in tort for the injured party's injuries, the
injured party is a third-party beneficiary of the separate
coverage and can recover medical expenses to the extent of
the separate coverage in a direct action against the insurer
based on contract. Desmond, 786 S.W.2d at 146-48.
limits of liability were listed as $300, 000 for L and $1,
000 per person for M. Under exclusions in that same section,
the policy states:
Farm Personal Liability Coverage does not apply to bodily
injury . . . which results directly or indirectly from . . .
the . . . maintenance [or] use . . . of motorized vehicles .
. . owned or operated by . . . an insured . . .; [or]
[b]odily injury to a farm employee of an insured if it occurs
in the course of employment . . . .
definition of "motorized vehicle" in this section
of the policy appears to include a farm tractor.
subsequently issued an endorsement to the policy. That
endorsement reads, "This endorsement changes the Farm
Personal Liability Coverage provided by this policy[.] PLEASE
READ THIS CAREFULLY[.]" In the same endorsement,
Respondent combined the changes to Coverages L and M. The
endorsement provided, "Coverages L and M are extended to
apply to bodily injury to a farm employee while performing
duties in connection with the farming operations of an
Insured." An exclusion in the endorsement stated,
"[c]overage under this endorsement does not apply to
liability for bodily injury excluded under the Farm Personal
Liability Coverage and not specifically covered under this
endorsement." A condition in the endorsement stated
"[t]his coverage is subject to the terms of the Farm
Personal Liability Coverage and does not increase the limits
stated therein." The limits of liability on the
declarations page also combined Coverages L and M in a single
line, "$300, 000 Farm Employee Liability & Med
Pay" with a separate premium.
injured farm worker ("Appellant") brought suit
under the endorsement to recover "medical expenses"
and damages. Appellant did not allege that an insured under
the policy was liable for his injuries or that he had
obtained a judgment or settlement that determined an insured
was liable for his injuries. Respondent sought summary
judgment on the basis that Appellant did not have standing to
pursue his action directly against Respondent. The trial
court granted judgment on that basis. We find Appellant had
standing and, thus, must reverse and remand to the trial
court for further consideration of Appellant's claim.
judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of
material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Rule 74.04(c); ITT
Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Mid-Am. Marine Supply
Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371, 381-82 (Mo. banc 1993)."
Bedell, 459 S.W.3d at 526. Further,
[w]hether to grant summary judgment is an issue of law that
this Court determines de novo. American Std.
Ins. Co. v. Hargrave, 34 S.W.3d 88, 89 (Mo. banc 2000).
The interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of
law that this Court also determines de novo.
Martin v. United States Fid. & Guar. Co., 996
S.W.2d 506, 508 (Mo. banc 1999); McCormack Baron Mgt.
Servs., Inc. v. American Guarantee & Liab. Ins. Co.,
989 S.W.2d 168, 171 (Mo. banc 1999).
Seeck v. Geico General Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d 129, 132
(Mo. banc ...