United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Farmers Insurance
Company's ("Fanners") Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff Daniel Baumhoff has filed a
memorandum in opposition (Doc. 25), and Farmers replied (Doc.
27). Both parties have filed a statement of material
facts. (Docs. 19, 21.)
10, 2016, Plaintiff was driving a 2012 Nissan Titan pickup
truck owned by his mother, Mary O'Brien. The truck was
struck by a vehicle driven by Alexis Baker. Plaintiff
sustained significant bodily injury. Baker was insured by
Progressive Insurance, which paid to Plaintiff the $100, 000
limit for bodily injury in Baker's policy. O'Brien
was insured by Defendant Safeco Insurance Company, which paid
to Plaintiff the $50, 000 limit for underinsured motorist
("UIM") coverage in O'Brien's
policy. Plaintiff sought additional payment from
Farmers, which had issued to him a policy that included $500,
000 in UIM coverage (the "Policy"). Farmers denied
Plaintiffs claim, asserting that the Policy's UIM
coverage excluded personal injury sustained by Plaintiff
while he was occupying a vehicle owned and insured for UIM
coverage by someone else. Plaintiff sued Farmers, arguing
that Farmers vexatiously refused to pay his claim. Farmers
answered, raised a counterclaim for declaratory judgment, and
then filed this Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the
Policy's language unambiguously excludes Plaintiffs
judgment is proper where the evidence, when viewed in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party, indicates that no
genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Davison v. City of Minneapolis, Minn., 490 F.3d 648,
654 (8th Cir. 2007); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
"The basic inquiry is whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law." Diesel Machinery, Inc. v. B.R. Lee
Industries, Inc., 418 F.3d 820, 832 (8th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
noted, the parties do not dispute the material facts:
Plaintiff was injured while driving his mother's vehicle,
which she had insured with a policy that included UIM
coverage. The only dispute is whether the Policy covers
Plaintiffs injuries. "State law governs the
interpretation of insurance policies." Nat'l
Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh v. Terra Indus., Inc.,
346 F.3d 1160, 1164 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Capitol
Indem. Corp. v. Haverfield, 218 F.3d 872, 875 (8th Cir.
2000)). "The interpretation of an insurance policy is a
question of law." Naeger v. Farmers Ins. Co.,
436 S.W.3d 654, 659 (Mo.Ct.App. 2014) (citing McCormack
Baron Mgt. Services, Inc. v. Am. Guarantee & Liab. Ins.
Co., 989 S.W.2d 168, 171 (Mo. banc 1999)). "Unless
the policy is ambiguous, it must be enforced as
written." Id. (citing Capitol Indem. Corp.
v. Callis, 963 S.W.2d 247, 249 (Mo.Ct.App. 1997)). A
policy is ambiguous if its language is susceptible to two
reasonable interpretations. CNHIndus. N.V. v. Reese,
138 S.Ct. 761, 765 (2018). The policy's language
"must be interpreted in the context of the policy as a
whole and should not be considered in isolation."
Naeger, 436 S.W.3d at 660 (citing Long v.
Shelter Ins. Companies, 351 S.W.3d 692, 696 (Mo.Ct.App.
2011)). Ambiguous language is construed against the drafter.
Id. (citing Burns v. Smith, 303 S.W.3d 505,
509-10 (Mo. banc 2010). Farmers bears the burden of showing
that its policy excludes coverage of Plaintiffs claim.
argues that two provisions preclude coverage, both listed
under the UIM section of the policy. First, it cites the
"other-insurance" provision, which reads:
"[Farmers] will not provide insurance for a vehicle
other than your insured car, unless the owner of that vehicle
has no other insurance applicable to this
part."" (Doc. 21-2 at 20 (emphasis added).)
Plaintiff was injured while driving his mother's vehicle,
which was covered by his mother's UIM insurance up to
responds that the other-insurance provision is ambiguous
because it does not define "other insurance applicable
to this part." (Id.) He asserts that the
language could mean primary insurance or UIM coverage and
that the provision only mentions vehicle damage, not bodily
injury. (Id.) Defendant's reference to the
provision in a bodily injury case, Plaintiff argues, only
adds to the ambiguity. (Id.)
of all, "[t]he failure of a policy to define a term does
not, in and of itself, render it ambiguous."
Naeger, 436 S.W.3d at 645 (quoting Trainwreck
West Inc. v. Burlington Ins. Co., 235 S.W.3d 33, 40 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2007)). Moreover, the Missouri Court of Appeals
affirmed summary judgment to the insurance company on a
nearly identical other-insurance, provision in Naeger v.
Farmers Ins. Co. In that case, the plaintiff was injured
as a passenger in a car struck by an underinsured motorist.
436 S.W.3d at 657. She alleged damages of $700, 000.
Id. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, which
insured the underinsured motorist, settled with the plaintiff
for $50, 000. Id. Allstate Insurance Company, which
insured the driver of the car plaintiff was in when she was
injured, paid her an additional $190, 000 pursuant to the
driver's UIM policy. Id. Plaintiff then sought
payment from her own insurer, pursuant to the UIM coverage in
her personal policy. Id.
plaintiffs insurer denied the claim based on a non-owned auto
exclusion that read: "We will not provide insurance for
a vehicle other than your insured car .. . unless the owner
of that vehicle has no other insurance applicable
hereunder." Id. at 659 (emphasis deleted). The
plaintiff argued that the policy did was not ambiguous
because it did not define "other insurance applicable
hereunder." Id. The Missouri Court of Appeals
rejected that argument, finding that "the reasonable
interpretation of the clause is that it refers to other UIM
coverage, as the endorsement in which it is included pertains
only to UIM coverage and its limitations and
Court concludes that Naeger compels the same holding
here. Like in Naeger, the phrase "other
insurance applicable to this part" is unambiguously
included in "PART II -Uninsured Motorist Coverage
(Including Underinsured Motorist Coverage)." (Doc. 21-2
at 18-19.) Because Part II "pertains only to UIM
coverage and its limitations and exclusions"
Naeger, 436 S.W.3d at 660, the reasonable
interpretation is that "other insurance applicable to
this part" means other UIM coverage. Because Plaintiff
was injured while operating his mother's vehicle and
because his mother had UIM insurance, the Court concludes
that the Policy does not cover Plaintiffs injuries.
asserts that the other-insurance provision applies only to
property damage to a vehicle and therefore is inapplicable
here. (Doc. 25 at 7.) The text of the provision states that
Famers "will not provide insurance for a vehicle other
than your insured car unless the owner of that vehicle has no
other insurance applicable to this part." (Doc. 21-2 at
20.) Plaintiff argues that "insurance for a
vehicle" means property damage and that therefore the
provision does not affect the Policy's coverage of his
bodily injuries. (Doc. 25 at 5-6.) ...