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Shore v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

February 27, 2017

PAMELA SHORE, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This suit concerns the underinsured coverage provisions of three insurance policies issued to Plaintiff Pamela Shore (“Plaintiff”) by Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”). On December 7, 2011, Plaintiff was involved in a car accident (the “Accident”) while driving one of her family's three cars, a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am (the “Grand Am”). Plaintiff has recovered $250, 000 from the other driver's insurance company, and now demands payment from her insurance provider, State Farm, pursuant to the underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage included in two of her three car insurance policies. State Farm denied Plaintiff's claim, stating that the policy covering the Grand Am did not include underinsured motorist coverage, and that the policies on her other cars do not provide coverage. Plaintiff then filed this action, asserting claims for breach of contract and vexatious refusal to pay.

         Now before the Court is State Farm's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 31). The Court finds the policies are unambiguous and exclude coverage. The motion is GRANTED.

         Background

         For purposes of deciding this motion, the Court finds the relevant facts to be as follows.

         Plaintiff and her husband have three separate car insurance policies with State Farm: one for the Grand Am involved in the Accident (“Grand Am Policy”), [1] one for a 1990 Ford F250 (“Ford Policy”), [2] and another for a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer (“Chevrolet Policy”).[3] The Ford and Chevrolet polices expressly include UIM coverage; the Grand Am Policy does not.

         On December 7, 2011, Plaintiff was involved in the Accident while driving her 1994 Pontiac Grand Am. She alleges her medical bills exceed $268, 000 and her economic losses exceed $946, 000. Plaintiff recovered $250, 000 from the insurance company of the other driver involved in the Accident, Jessica Cannon. She demanded State Farm cover the balance of her losses, and State Farm denied her claim on the ground that the Grand Am insurance policy did not contain UIM coverage.

         The Ford and Chevrolet policies contain the following language regarding UIM coverage:

         We will pay compensatory damages for bodily injury an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or driver of an underinsured motor vehicle. The bodily injury must be:

1. sustained by an insured; and
2. caused by an accident that involves the operation, maintenance, or use of an underinsured motor vehicle as a motor vehicle.
We will pay only if the full amount of all available limits of all bodily injury liability bonds, and self-insurance plans that apply to the insured's bodily injury have been used up by payment of judgments or settlements, or have been offered to the insured in writing.

Def.'s Ex. C at 24-26 (Doc. 32-3); Def.'s Ex. D at 23-25 (Doc. 32-4) (emphasis in original).

         The policies also contain a provision excluding coverage for injuries suffered while occupying a vehicle owned by the insured (the “Owned-Car Exclusion”).[4] But, the policies also contain an exception (the “Insured-Spouse Exception”)[5] to the Owned-Vehicle Exclusion for the individual named on the policy and his or her spouse. The Owned-Vehicle Exclusion and the Insured-Spouse Exception are the focus of this dispute.[6]

         Standard

         A moving party is entitled to summary judgment if it “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those “that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and a genuine dispute over a material fact is one “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In deciding whether a jury question presents on an element, the court must view the evidence in the ...


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