United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment. Defendant has filed a memorandum in
opposition, and all issues are fully briefed.
Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Company issued an
automobile insurance policy to defendant Lynn Stuart,
providing underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) of up to $100,
000 per person. On June 10, 2011, defendant sustained
injuries in an automobile accident. She ultimately recovered
$250, 000-the full amount of coverage available under the
negligent driver's insurance policy. However,
defendant's damages exceeded $250, 000. She therefore
submitted a claim to plaintiff for $100, 000 under the UIM
provision in her policy. Plaintiff denied the claim.
Plaintiff now brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2201, seeking a declaration that defendant is not entitled to
UIM coverage under the policy.
56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
summary judgment shall be entered if the moving party shows
“that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment a
court is required to view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party
the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the
underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826
F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the
burden of showing both the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of
law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Once the moving
party has met its burden, the non-moving party may not rest
on the allegations of his pleadings but must set forth
specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that
a genuine issue of material fact exists. United of Omaha
Life Ins. Co. v. Honea, 458 F.3d 788, 791 (8th Cir.
2006) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). Rule 56 “mandates
the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for
discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make
a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
diversity action, the Court is bound by the decisions of the
Missouri Supreme Court regarding issues of substantive state
law. Owners Ins. Co. v. Hughes, 712 F.3d 392, 393
(8th Cir. 2013). Decisions by the Missouri Court of Appeals
may be used as “an indication of how the Missouri
Supreme Court may rule, ” but the Court is “not
bound to follow these decisions.” Id.
policies are read as a whole, and the risk insured against is
made up of both the general insuring agreement as well as the
exclusions and definitions.” Todd v. Missouri
United Sch. Ins. Council, 223 S.W.3d 156, 163 (Mo. 2007)
(en banc). In construing the terms of an insurance policy,
Missouri courts apply “the meaning an ordinary person
of average understanding would attach if purchasing
insurance, and resolve ambiguities in favor of the
insured.” Dutton v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co.,
454 S.W.3d 319, 322 (Mo. 2015). But, “[i]f the
policy's language is unambiguous, it must be enforced as
written.” Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins.
Co., 439 S.W.3d 215, 217 (Mo. 2014). Ambiguities arise
when there is “duplicity, indistinctness, or
uncertainty in the meaning of the language in the policy.
Language is ambiguous if it is reasonably open to different
constructions.” Burns v. Smith, 303 S.W.3d
505, 509 (Mo. 2010) (citation omitted). Ambiguity also arises
where an insurance clause appears to furnish coverage but
other provisions signal that such coverage is not provided.
Seeck v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d 129, 134
(Mo. 2007) (en banc). However, “[d]efinitions,
exclusions, conditions and endorsements are necessary
provisions in insurance policies. If they are clear and
unambiguous within the context of the policy as a whole, they
are enforceable.” Todd, 223 S.W.3d at 163.
Finally, “[a] court may not create an ambiguity in
order to distort the language of an unambiguous policy, or,
in order to enforce a particular construction which it might
feel is more appropriate.” Rodriguez v. Gen. Acc.
Ins. Co. of Am., 808 S.W.2d 379, 382 (Mo. 1991) (en
Coverage endorsement in the policy involved in this case
provides as follows:
UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE INSURING AGREEMENT
will pay compensatory damages which an “insured”
is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of
an “uninsured motor vehicle” because of
1. Sustained by an “insured”; and
2. Caused by an accident.
owner's or operator's liability for these damages
must arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the
“underinsured motor vehicle”.
pay under this coverage only if 1. or 2. below applies:
1. The limits of liability under any bodily injury liability
bonds or policies applicable to the “underinsured motor
vehicle” have been exhausted by payment of judgments or
2. A tentative settlement has been made between an
“insured” and the insurer of the
“underinsured motor vehicle” and we:
a. Have been given prompt written notice of such tentative
b. Advance payment to the “insured” in an amount
equal to the tentative settlement within 30 days after
receipt of notification.
[Doc. #1-1 at 33].
within that same section, the policy sets forth the following
C. “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 ...