Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF MCDONALD COUNTY Honorable Timothy
W. Perigo, Circuit Judge
JEFFREY W. BATES, P.J. - OPINION
Marrs (Marrs) appeals from a summary judgment granted to
American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American Family)
that denied Marrs' request to stack underinsured motorist
(UIM) coverage in five American Family policies
(Policies). Marrs' request to stack the UIM
coverages was based upon alleged ambiguities in the
Policies' language. The trial court concluded that the
Policies provided no UIM benefits to Marrs because: (1) there
were no ambiguities in the Policies' anti-stacking
provisions; and (2) there was no ambiguity in the
Policies' definition of an underinsured motor vehicle.
presents one point for decision. She contends the trial court
erred in granting summary judgment to American Family
because: (1) the Policies' definition of an underinsured
motor vehicle is ambiguous; and (2) since the duplicate
underinsured motor vehicle clauses are excess to each other,
the Policies should be stacked. Because we agree with the
trial court that there are no ambiguities in the
Policies' anti-stacking and UIM definitional provisions,
and Procedural Background
is the widow of Teddy Marrs (Decedent), who died from
injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident while
riding as a passenger in a vehicle (Vehicle) driven by Shelby
Slinkard (Driver). The Vehicle was owned by Decedent's
daughter, Tammy Grider and her husband Toby Grider (the
Griders), and insured by American Family via a policy that
provided $100, 000 in liability coverage for bodily injury.
Driver was insured by an auto insurance policy with
Progressive Insurance Company that provided $25, 000 in
liability coverage for bodily injury. Marrs settled her
claims against Driver for $125, 000, the cumulative policy
limits of the two liability policies that provided coverage
time of Decedent's death, he was residing with Marrs,
Decedent's son Timothy R. Marrs (Son), and Decedant's
grandson Dylan C. Link (Grandson). Marrs, Son and Grandson
were named, individually or in combination, as insureds in
the five Policies with UIM limits totaling $450,
In Marrs' petition, she asked the trial court to stack
each of the UIM coverage limits and enter judgment in her
favor for $450, 000.
American Family filed a motion for summary judgment.
According to American Family, the UIM coverages could not be
stacked because of the unambiguous anti-stacking provisions
contained in each of the Policies. The trial court agreed
with American Family and granted its motion for summary
judgment. This appeal followed.
to grant summary judgment is an issue of law that this Court
determines de novo." Seeck v. Geico Gen.
Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d 129, 132 (Mo. banc 2007). "The
interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law
that this Court also determines de novo."
Id.; see also Swadley v. Shelter Mut. Ins.
Co., 513 S.W.3d 355, 357 (Mo. banc 2017). In construing
the terms of an insurance policy, we apply the meaning that
would be attached by an ordinary person of average
understanding if purchasing insurance and resolve ambiguities
in favor of the insured. Ritchie v. Allied Prop. &
Cas. Ins. Co., 307 S.W.3d 132, 135 (Mo. banc 2009).
"[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, 212 S.W.3d
respect to UIM coverage, stacking depends upon policy
language. Ritchie, 307 S.W.3d at 135. "[I]f the
policy language is unambiguous in disallowing stacking, the
anti-stacking provisions are enforceable." Id.
If, however, the policy language is ambiguous as to stacking,
it must be construed against the insurer, and stacking will
be allowed. Id. "Courts should not interpret
policy provisions in isolation but rather evaluate policies
as a whole." Id.; see Seeck, 212
S.W.3d at 133. The burden is on the insured to show coverage
is provided under the policies at issue. Manner v.
Schiermeier, 393 S.W.3d 58, 63 (Mo. banc 2013).
Marrs' single point, she contends the trial court erred
in granting summary judgment to American Family. Marrs'
arguments for reversal are based upon the premise that the
Policies' definition of an "underinsured motor
vehicle" is ambiguous.
Policies each contain the same June 2014 UIM endorsement (the
UIM Endorsement), which consists of sections
In Section A, the term "underinsured motor vehicle"
Underinsured motor vehicle means a motor vehicle which is
insured by a liability bond or policy at the time of the
accident which provides bodily injury liability limits less
than the limits of liability of this underinsured motorists
B.1 contains the general UIM insuring agreement. It states:
Subject to the provisions contained within each section of
this endorsement, we will pay compensatory damages for bodily
injury which an insured person is legally entitled to recover
from the owner or operator of an underinsured motor vehicle.
The amount of compensatory damages we will pay will never
exceed the underinsured motorist coverage limits of liability
shown on the Declarations minus any payment or reduction set
forth in Section D.3. LIMITS OF LIABILITY.
D is the UIM "LIMITS OF LIABILITY" section.
Provision D.2 contains the ...