Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pitts v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 31, 2017

BRIAN PITTS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
THE HERTZ CORPORATION, Third-Party Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER [1]

          NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Third-Party Defendant The Hertz Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgment (hereinafter referred to as “Hertz”). [Doc. 29.] Defendant/ Third-Party Plaintiff State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (hereinafter referred to as “State Farm”) filed a Memorandum in Opposition. [Doc. 37.] Based on the following, the Court will grant Hertz's Motion for Summary Judgment.[2]

         I. Standard for Summary Judgment

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information on the record before the court shows “there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (emphasis added). A fact is only material if it might affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantial law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Additionally, a “genuine” issue only exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Herring v. Can. Life Assur. Co., 207 F.3d 1026, 1029 (8th Cir. 2000) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The moving party has the initial burden of clearly establishing the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in its favor. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Assoc. Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). Once the moving party discharges this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The non-moving party must set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing there is a genuine dispute on an issue of material fact. Id.

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993). Proof that “some alleged factual dispute” exists between the parties “will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247. The non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but by affidavit and other evidence, he or she must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Herring, 207 F.3d 1026, 1029 (8th Cir. 2000). In passing on a motion for summary judgment, it is not the court's role to decide the merits. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The court should not weigh evidence or attempt to determine the truth of a matter. Id. Rather, the court must simply determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. Bassett v. City of Minneapolis, 211 F.3d 1097, 1107 (8th Cir. 2000).

         II. Factual Background

         The Court finds that the following facts are material and undisputed for the purpose of Hertz's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         On September 14, 2012, Plaintiff rented a vehicle from Hertz in O'Fallon, Missouri. Hertz is a self-insured entity. Hertz offered Plaintiff its optional automobile rental insurance coverage, referred to as the “Liability Insurance Supplement” (hereinafter referred to as “Hertz Policy”). However, Plaintiff had an existing State Farm Policy. Plaintiff called his State Farm Agent, Deanna Carroll, to confirm that his State Farm Policy provided automobile insurance for the rental vehicle. Carroll replied that Plaintiff's State Farm Policy covered the rental vehicle, and that he did not need to pay for the Hertz Policy. Due to his conversation with Carroll, Plaintiff declined such coverage because he believed the rental vehicle to be fully insured under his State Farm Policy.[3] The Plaintiff's rental agreement reflected his decision to decline the Hertz Policy.[4] A clause within the rental agreement stated that Hertz's “liability protection is secondary, ” and that Plaintiff's own insurance would provide the primary coverage:

“By your declining the optional Liability Insurance Supplement (LIS), Par. 10(b) of the Rental Terms will apply to this rental. By signing below, You agree that any insurance that provides coverage to You or to an Authorized Operator shall be primary. In the event of any claims arising from the operation of the Car, such insurance shall be responsible for the payment of all personal injury and/or property damage claims up to the limits of such insurance.”

(emphasis added).

         On September 15, 2012, an uninsured motorist hit Plaintiff while he was driving the Hertz vehicle in Kansas City, Missouri. The accident caused significant damage to the rental vehicle and bodily injury to the Plaintiff. Plaintiff was operating the rental vehicle at the time of the accident. A tow truck took the rental vehicle to the Kansas City airport, where Plaintiff obtained a substitute Hertz rental vehicle. Plaintiff also declined the Hertz Policy on the substitute vehicle.

         On and prior to the date of the accident, Plaintiff possessed the State Farm Policy which provided coverage for two (2) of his vehicles: a 1993 Ford Explorer and a 1977 Corvette. Plaintiff was the only person insured under the State Farm Policy at the time of the accident. The State Farm Policy provided uninsured motorist coverage with stated limits of $100, 000 per vehicle. These amounts could be stacked to equal a total of $200, 000.

         On August 3, 2015, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against his automobile insurance company, State Farm, for failing to pay him the requisite benefits under his policy (hereinafter referred to as “State Farm Policy”) regarding the accident. [Doc.4.] Plaintiff did not initiate a lawsuit against Hertz.

         The case was later removed to district court. [Doc. 1.] State Farm joined Hertz as a third-party defendant. [Doc. 18.] State Farm alleged that Hertz had a duty to provide Plaintiff uninsured motorist coverage on a pro-rata basis with State Farm under Missouri law. [Doc. 18.] After joining Hertz, State Farm settled with Plaintiff. The Court subsequently dismissed Plaintiff's claims in his action against State Farm. [Doc. 44.] On October 20, 2016, Hertz filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against State Farm. [Doc. 29.] State Farm filed a Memorandum in Opposition to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.