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Turner v. Mutual Service Casualty Insurance Co.

June 17, 2003

JUDD TURNER, ET AL., RESPONDENTS,
v.
MUTUAL SERVICE CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, RESPONDENT, LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Ramsey County District Court File No. CX-01-812

Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. When a commercial automobile insurance policy for purposes of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage defines an "insured" as the named insured or anyone occupying a covered vehicle, an employee of the corporate named insured is not an "insured" while occupying a non-covered rental vehicle.

2. Minn. Stat. §á60A.08, subd. 12 (2002), does not require that a commercial automobile insurance policy provide uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for rental vehicles.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Halbrooks, Judge.

Reversed

OPINION

Respondents Judd and Terese Turner, injured while using a rental car on an out-of-state business trip, moved for summary judgment in this declaratory-judgment action they brought to recover uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits from appellant Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Judd Turner's employer's commercial automobile insurer, and respondent Mutual Service Casualty Company, the Turners' personal automobile insurer.

The district court granted summary judgment to the Turners, holding that the commercial automobile policy provides primary uninsured/underinsured coverage and the personal automobile policy provides excess coverage. Because we conclude that the commercial automobile policy does not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to the Turners, who were not "insureds" under the policy or occupying a covered motor vehicle as defined by the policy, we reverse.

FACTS

Respondents Judd and Terese Turner, husband and wife, are Minnesota residents. On November 7, 1999, the Turners were seriously injured in a two-car accident in Louisiana. At the time of the accident, Judd Turner was attending a business meeting related to his employment as sales director for Express Scripts, Inc. Judd Turner was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Terese Turner. The Turners had rented a car for their use in Louisiana. It is undisputed that Express Scripts made the arrangements and paid for the rental car.

Appellant Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Liberty Mutual) provided commercial auto insurance to Express Scripts; its policy contained an endorsement that provided $1,000,000 of uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Respondent Mutual Service Casualty Insurance Company (MSI) provided personal auto insurance to the Turners with UM/UIM limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.

After the Turners settled their claims with the at-fault driver's insurer, they brought an action for UM/UIM benefits against both Liberty Mutual and MSI. MSI asserted a cross-claim against Liberty Mutual for reimbursement of basic-economic-loss benefits that it had paid on behalf of the Turners. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The district court determined that the Turners are entitled to primary UM/UIM coverage under Liberty Mutual's policy with excess coverage to be provided by MSI. In addition, the court granted MSI's motion for reimbursement from Liberty Mutual of basic-economic-loss benefits paid on behalf of the Turners. Liberty Mutual has not appealed from the judgment ordering it to reimburse MSI for basic-economic-loss benefits.

ISSUES

1. Did the district court err in concluding that the Turners were "insureds" under the Liberty Mutual policy and were "occupying" a covered vehicle making Liberty Mutual's ...


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