United States District Court, D. Minnesota
A. Jenson Prouty, ARTHUR, CHAPMAN, KETTERING, SMETAK &
PIKALA, P.A., 500 Young Quinlan Building, 81 South Ninth
Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, for plaintiff.
Matthew James Barber, SCHWEBEL, GOETZ & SIEBEN, 80 South
Eighth Street, Suite 5120, Minneapolis, MN 55402, for
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
R. TUNHEIM, CHIEF JUDGE
Charles Richards was injured in a motorcycle accident.
Richards seeks compensation under his auto-insurance policy
with Plaintiff Employers Mutual Casualty Company
(“EMC”), specifically under the
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”)
Endorsement to his policy. EMC brought this action, seeking a
declaration that it is not liable under its policy with
Richards because an owned-vehicle exclusion in the UIM
Endorsement precludes Richards from receiving the UIM
benefits he seeks. The parties have filed cross-motions for
summary judgment. Because the Court will conclude that
Richards is not eligible for these benefits under the UIM
Endorsement, the Court will deny Richards's motion for
summary judgment, grant EMC's motion for summary
judgment, and enter judgment for EMC.
Richards owned three motor vehicles that he insured through
EMC. (Compl. ¶ 13, Aug. 7, 2017, Docket No. 1; Answer
¶ 9, Oct. 3, 2017, Docket No. 8; see Compl.
¶ 12, Ex. B (“Auto Policy”) at 1-2.) The
policy specifically lists: a 1994 Honda, a 2002 Chevrolet,
and a 2014 Honda. (Compl. ¶ 13; Answer ¶ 9.)
Richards also owned a motorcycle, which he insured through a
Progressive policy providing liability coverage but not UIM
coverage. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 9, 14; Answer ¶¶
3, 5, 10; see also Compl. ¶ 9, Ex. A.)
September 11, 2016, Richards was injured in a motor-vehicle
accident while operating his motorcycle. (Compl. ¶¶
2, 10; Answer ¶¶ 3, 6.) Richards recovered $50, 000
from the at-fault driver - the liability limit under the
at-fault driver's insurance policy - but this amount
failed to cover all the costs of Richards's injuries.
(Compl. ¶ 11; Answer ¶¶ 7, 35, 36.) Because
Richards's Progressive motorcycle insurance did not
include UIM coverage, he filed a claim with EMC, seeking
compensation under the UIM Endorsement to his auto policy.
(See Compl. ¶¶ 2, 16; Answer ¶¶
UIM coverage is designed to cover Richards if he is injured
by an uninsured motorist or if the cost of his injuries
exceeds the limits of another, at-fault motorist's
coverage. (See Compl. ¶ 12; Answer ¶ 8;
Auto Policy at 29-32 (“UIM Endorsement”).)
Richards's UIM coverage contains an owned-vehicle
exclusion, which excludes coverage “for ‘bodily
injury' sustained by any ‘insured': (1) While
‘occupying' any motor vehicle owned by that
‘insured' which is not insured for this
coverage.” (Auto Policy at 30.) This case involves the
application of this exclusion to the UIM coverage.
claims that, as a result of the injuries he sustained during
the September 2016 motorcycle crash, he is entitled to UIM
benefits under his policy with EMC. EMC contends that the UIM
Endorsement excludes coverage because Richards was occupying
a motor vehicle that he owned but did not insure under his
policy with EMC. EMC brought this declaratory-judgment
action, seeking a declaration that it is not required to pay
Richards's claim under the UIM Endorsement.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of
material fact and the moving party can demonstrate that it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the
lawsuit, and a dispute is genuine if the evidence could lead
a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A court considering a motion for summary judgment
must view the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and give that party the benefit of all
reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those facts.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “The interpretation of an
insurance policy . . . is one of law” that is properly
decided in a motion for summary judgment. Midwest Family
Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wolters, 831 N.W.2d 628, 636 (Minn.
2013) (quoting Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Todd, 547
N.W.2d 696, 698 (Minn. 1996)).
PRINCIPLES OF INSURANCE POLICY INTERPRETATION
interpreting an insurance policy under Minnesota law,
“general principles of contract interpretation
apply.” Lobeck v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 582 N.W.2d 246, 249 (Minn. 1998). The Court must
construe the terms of a policy “according to what a
reasonable person in the position of the insured would have
understood the words to mean.” Canadian Universal
Ins. Co. v. Fire Watch, Inc., 258 N.W.2d 570, 572 (Minn.
1977). Accordingly, where words and phrases in a policy are