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Greer v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

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

August 30, 2017

RICKY GREER, Plaintiff,
v.
PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This suit concerns the underinsured coverage of insurance policies issued to Plaintiff Ricky Greer (“Plaintiff”) by Defendants Progressive Northwestern Insurance Company (“Progressive Northwestern”) and Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (“Progressive Casualty”). Plaintiff had two separate insurance policies: one with Progressive Northwestern for a 2015 Harley Davidson Motorcycle (“Harley Policy”); and one with Progressive Casualty for a 1993 Chevrolet C3500 and a 1990 Mazda Miata (“Chevy and Mazda Policy”). Both policies contained underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits provisions.

         On August 2, 2015, Plaintiff was involved in an accident with another driver while riding his 2015 Harley Davidson Motorcycle. He claims his damages from the accident exceed $350, 000. Plaintiff recovered $100, 000 from the other driver's insurance company, and demanded payment from his own insurance providers pursuant to his UIM coverage. Defendants denied Plaintiff's claims under each of the policies.

         Plaintiff then filed this action in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, seeking payment of his UIM benefits and asserting a claim for vexatious refusal to pay under Missouri Revised Statute § 375.420. Defendants timely removed this action to the federal district court by invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction.

         Now before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment: Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 16) and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 19). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED and Defendants' motion is GRANTED.[1]

         Background

         For purposes of deciding these motions, the Court finds the relevant facts to be as follows.

         On August 2, 2015, Plaintiff was riding his 2015 Harley Davidson motorcycle (the “Harley”) when another motorcyclist, James Blaylock (“Blaylock”) struck him, causing Plaintiff to lose control and sustain bodily injury. Blaylock was insured by a policy providing for liability coverage of $100, 000, and that amount was tendered to Plaintiff after the accident.

         Plaintiff then sent a demand for UIM benefits to Progressive Northwestern and Progressive Casualty under the Harley, Chevy, and Mazda policies. In his demand, Plaintiff asserted his injuries were in excess of $250, 000, and he was owed $150, 000 under the insurance policies.[2] Progressive Casualty and Progressive Northwestern denied Plaintiff's claims for UIM benefits. In denying his claims under the Chevy and Mazda Policy, Progressive Casualty asserted: (1) Plaintiff was not an “insured person” under the policies; (2) the Harley was owned by or available for the regular use of Plaintiff; and (3) Blaylock's vehicle was not an “underinsured motor vehicle.” Progressive Cas. Denial Letter, Def.'s Ex. F (Doc. 20-6). Progressive Northwestern denied Plaintiff's claim under the Harley Policy because Blaylock's vehicle was not an “underinsured motor vehicle.” Progressive Northwestern Denial Letter, Def.'s Ex. G (Doc. 20-7).

         The Chevy and Mazda Policy was issued by Progressive Casualty and contains the following relevant language:

“Auto” means a land motor vehicle: a. of the private passenger, pickup body, or cargo van type; b. designed for operation principally upon public roads; c. with at least four wheels; and d. with a gross vehicle weight rating of 12, 000 pounds or less, according to the manufacturer's specifications.
. . .
“Covered auto” means: a. any auto or trailer shown on the declarations page for the coverages applicable to that auto or trailer; b. any additional auto; c. any replacement auto; or d. a trailer owned by you.
. . .
“Replacement auto” means an auto that permanently replaces an auto shown on the declarations page. A replacement auto will have the same coverage as the auto it replaces if the replacement auto is not covered by any other insurance policy . . . .
. . .
“Insured person” means:
a. you or a relative;
(1) while occupying an auto; or . . .
b. any person occupying a covered auto with the permission of you or a relative; and c. any person who is entitled to recover damages covered by this Part III(B) because of bodily injury sustained by a person described in (a) or (b) above.
“Underinsured motor vehicle” means a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type for which the sum of the limits of liability under all bodily injury liability bonds or policies applicable at the time of the accident is less than whichever of the following is shown on the declarations page for Underinsured Motorist Coverage: (a) the “Each Person Dollar Amount” to be used in determining the “Underinsured Motorist Limit - Each Person” . . . . An “underinsured motor vehicle” does not include any vehicle or ...

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