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Hibdon v. Farmers Insurance Company, Inc.

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

May 17, 2018

HOLLY HIBDON, Plaintiff,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S CROSS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Now before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 37) and Plaintiff's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 44). Suggestions in opposition (docs. 41, 49) and reply suggestions (docs. 48, 51) were filed for both motions. After careful consideration, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 37) will be GRANTED, and Plaintiff's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 44) will be DENIED.

         Background

         All of the relevant facts are undisputed. Plaintiff Holly Hibdon is the granddaughter of John and Cheryl Hibdon, and they obtained legal custody of her when she was a minor. On or about May 16, 2013, Plaintiff left Missouri where she was living with her grandparents to begin living in Texas with her boyfriend, Dillon Wooley. Plaintiff admits that she lived with Dillon Wooley in Texas continuously between May of 2013 and February 14, 2016.

         On February 14, 2016, Plaintiff was injured as a result of an automobile accident that took place in Texas (the “Accident”). During the Accident, Plaintiff was a passenger in her boyfriend's vehicle while her boyfriend was driving. Plaintiff is seeking coverage under the uninsured and underinsured provisions of an insurance policy that Defendant Farmers Insurance Company, Inc. issued to John and Cheryl Hibdon effective from September 21, 2015 to September 21, 2016, with policy number 18738-33-79 (the “Policy”). John and Cheryl Hibdon live in Missouri, provided a Missouri address on the Policy, and worked with Farmers' agent, Brad Seiner, in Missouri to obtain the Policy.

         The Policy listed three insured vehicles, two Chevrolet trucks and a Cadillac. At the time of the Accident, Plaintiff was a passenger in a 2014 Chevy Impala, which is not an insured vehicle under the Policy. The Policy Declarations list only “John Hibdon” and “Cheryl Hibdon” as the “named insureds.” In a separate section of the Policy Declarations, with a separate heading, the Policy Declarations list John Hibdon, Cheryl Hibdon, and Plaintiff as “household drivers.” When Plaintiff was added to the Policy in 2011 as a “household driver, ” the premium for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage increased. Plaintiff has at all times since 2011 been listed on the Policy as a “Household Driver, ” and the additional uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage premium has continued to be charged.

         The Policy defines an “insured person” for purposes of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages as “a. You or a family member; b. Any other person while occupying your insured car; c. Any person for damages that person is entitled to recover because of bodily injury to you, a family member, or another occupant of your insured car.” The Policy defines “you” as “the ‘named insured' shown in the Declarations and spouse if a resident of the same household.” The Policy defines “family member” as “a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of your household.”

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff does not meet the definition of “insured person” for purposes of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage under the Policy, and therefore, is not entitled to the coverage she is seeking for the Accident. Plaintiff argues that it is of no consequence that she does not meet the definition of “insured person” for purposes of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage under the Policy because she believes the Hibdons bought added uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for Plaintiff as a “household driver.”

         Discussion

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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). A party who moves for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). A party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not simply deny the allegations, but must point to evidence in the record demonstrating the existence of a factual dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Conseco Life Ins. Co. v. Williams, 620 F.3d 902, 910 (8th Cir. 2010).

         The threshold question before the Court is whether the Policy provided Plaintiff with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for her injuries resulting from the Accident.

         “Under Missouri law, [1] ‘the insured has the burden of showing that the loss and damages are covered by the policy.'” Breckenridge v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 06-0721-CV-W-NKL, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55535, at *7 (W.D. Mo. July 31, 2007)(citation omitted). In addition, the “interpretation of an insurance policy and the determination whether coverage and exclusion provisions are ambiguous are [] questions of law” for the Court to decide. Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., 439 S.W.3d 215, 217 (Mo. 2014) (citation omitted). If an insurance policy is ambiguous, “it must be construed against the insurer[, ]” but absent an ambiguity, the insurance policy must be construed and enforced as written. Seeck v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., 212 S.W.3d 129, 132 (Mo. 2007). In Allied Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Stuart, the court summarized how to review and determine whether an ambiguity exists in an insurance policy under Missouri law:

Insurance policies are read as a whole, and the risk insured against is made up of both the general insuring agreement as well as the exclusions and definitions. In construing the terms of an insurance policy, Missouri courts apply the meaning an ordinary person of average understanding would attach if purchasing insurance . . . Ambiguities arise 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. Ambiguity also arises where an insurance clause appears to furnish coverage but other provisions signal that such coverage is not provided. However, [d]efinitions, exclusions, conditions and endorsements are necessary provisions in insurance policies. If they are clear and unambiguous within the context of the policy as a whole, they are ...

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