United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co.
(“Allied”) brought this declaratory judgment
action against defendant Megan Bresler seeking a judgment
that defendant is not entitled to underinsured motorist
coverage pursuant to the terms of defendant's insurance
contract with Allied. Plaintiff has moved for summary
judgment (#9). After staying briefing on this matter during
the pendency of the defendant's motion to dismiss, the
matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
following facts are not in dispute. Defendant was involved in
an automobile accident on October 26, 2015. She alleged that
the other driver (the “Tortfeasor”) involved in
the accident was at fault. Defendant recovered the $250, 000
policy limit of the Tortfeasor's applicable insurance
policy. She also recovered the $1, 000, 000 limit of
liability of the insurance policy applicable to the vehicle
she was driving at the time of the accident. Defendant seeks
underinsured motorist coverage under her own policy of
automobile insurance issued to her by plaintiff Allied (the
“Policy”) because she says her injuries exceeded
the $250, 000 limit of liability of the Tortfeasor's
Policy states that it offers “underinsured motorist
coverage” (“UIM coverage”) and defines
“underinsured motor vehicle” as a vehicle which
is subject to an insurance policy which has a “limit
for bodily injury liability…less than the limit of
liability for this coverage.” The Policy's limit of
liability for UIM coverage is $100, 000. The Tortfeasor's
insurance limit of liability is $250, 000, which is more than
the $100, 000 limit of liability of UIC under defendant's
Policy. Allied thus claims that the Tortfeasor was not
driving an underinsured motor vehicle and that defendant is
not entitled to UIM coverage as a result.
has moved for summary judgment.
Standard of Review
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a district court
may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the
information before the court demonstrates that “there
is no genuine issue as to material fact and the moving party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Poller
v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 467
(1962). Because “the interpretation and construction of
insurance policies is a matter of law, ... such cases are
particularly amenable to summary judgment.” John
Deere Ins. Co. v. Shamrock Indus., Inc., 929 F.2d 413,
417 (8th Cir. 1991).
this is a diversity case, the Court applies state substantive
law and federal procedural law. Gasperini v. Center for
Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996); see also
Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938).
Plaintiff's claim is based on a Missouri contract and an
accident that occurred in Missouri. The parties appear to
agree that Missouri law controls.
is no statutory requirement that an automotive insurance
contract contain UIM coverage, so its existence is determined
by the contract entered into between the parties.
Rodriguez v. General Accident Ins. Co. of Am., 808
S.W.2d 379, 383 (Mo. banc 1991). The interpretation
of an insurance policy is a question of law for which the
general rules of contract interpretation apply. Peters v.
Employers Mut. Cas. Co., 853 S.W.2d 300, 301-02 (Mo.
banc 1993). “If the policy language is
unambiguous, it must be enforced as written.”
Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. Morton, 140 F.Supp.3d
856, 861 (E.D. Mo. 2015). “[A]mbiguity exists 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.”
Seeck v. Geico General Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d 129, 132
(Mo. banc. 2007). “The fact that the parties
disagree over the policy's interpretation does not render
a term ambiguous. “ Morton, 140 F.Supp.3d at
Policy here provides that, with respect to the UIM coverage
We will pay compensatory damages which an
“insured” is legally entitled to recover from the
owner or operator of an “underinsured motor