824 S.W.2d 19 (Mo.App. E.D. 1991), 59327, American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Turner

Docket Nº59327.
Citation824 S.W.2d 19
Party NameAMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Pauline TURNER, et al., Defendant/Respondent.
Case DateSeptember 24, 1991
CourtCourt of Appeals of Missouri

Page 19

824 S.W.2d 19 (Mo.App. E.D. 1991)

AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff/Appellant,

v.

Pauline TURNER, et al., Defendant/Respondent.

No. 59327.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division.

September 24, 1991

Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied Nov. 18, 1991. Application to Transfer Denied March 24, 1992.

Page 20

Sharon E. Wilkes, St. Louis, for plaintiff/appellant.

Gretchen Myers, St. Louis, for defendant/respondent.

GRIMM, Presiding Judge.

American Family Mutual Insurance Company issued an automobile insurance policy to Pauline and Charles Turner, which includes underinsured motorist coverage. Mrs. Turner was involved in an automobile collision in which she allegedly sustained serious injuries.

American Family filed a declaratory judgment action regarding the interpretation of the underinsured motorist coverage. The trial court found the policy to be ambiguous and held the Turners were entitled to coverage in excess of that paid by the other party involved in the collision. In the alternative, the trial court applied a "reasonable expectations" test and reached the same result. American Family appeals; we affirm.

  1. Background

    In the underlying action against Daniel Dalton and American Family, the Turners allege that on February 9, 1989, a vehicle driven by Dalton crossed over a median and hit Pauline Turner's vehicle head on. They allege Mrs. Turner sustained damages in excess of $100,000.

    Dalton had an automobile insurance policy with a $100,000 limit. His insurer paid the policy limit to the Turners.

    The Turners have an automobile insurance policy with American Family. The policy includes underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. The Turners pay a separate premium for this coverage.

    American Family claims the $100,000 payment by Dalton's insurer fully offsets American Family's $100,000 obligation under its underinsurance coverage. As a result, it denies any obligation for Mrs. Turner's damages.

    The underinsured motorists coverage is set forth in a separate endorsement to the basic seven-page family car policy. The following policy provisions are the focus of the dispute:

    We will pay compensatory damages for bodily injury which an insured person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an underinsured motor vehicle.

    ADDITIONAL DEFINITIONS USED IN THIS ENDORSEMENT ONLY

    1. Underinsured motor vehicle...

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