Gardner v. Allstate Ins. Co.

Decision Date27 February 1991
Docket NumberNo. 22171-CA,22171-CA
Citation575 So.2d 883
PartiesClaudine GARDNER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee. 575 So.2d 883
CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US

Brittain, Williams, McGlathery, Passman & Sylvester by Russell L. Sylvester, Natchitoches, for plaintiff-appellant.

Gahagan & Gahagan by Fred S. Gahagan, Natchitoches, for defendant-appellee.

Before SEXTON, LINDSAY and VICTORY, JJ.

SEXTON, Judge.

Plaintiff appeals the district court's granting of a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate), the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) carrier for the host driver, Herman Lee Walker, of the vehicle in which plaintiff, Claudine Gardner, was a guest passenger at the time of an accident. We affirm.

On June 25, 1987, Mr. Walker, his wife, Nola, and the plaintiff were returning from a fishing trip when the one-vehicle accident occurred. Both Mrs. Walker and Ms. Gardner stated in their depositions that they had no comprehension of how the accident occurred. All that can be gleaned from their testimony is that Mr. Walker was driving in a normal, safe manner when their pickup truck crossed the center line and suddenly was out of control.

Mr. Walker indicated in his deposition that as he began to slow his vehicle in anticipation of executing an upcoming turn, the boat trailer which he was towing became disconnected. One of the safety chains broke as he steered to the left to avoid the trailer which was "coming up" on the right side of the vehicle. He then lost control of the truck, the other safety chain broke, the truck went across the highway, left the roadway, and flipped over after hitting a soft shoulder. Mr. Walker was slightly injured in the accident, while both Mrs. Walker and Ms. Gardner were seriously injured.

Both plaintiff and Mrs. Walker compromised their claims with regard to Allstate's liability coverage, with plaintiff reserving her right to pursue a claim for benefits under Allstate's UM coverage. * Allstate then filed this motion for summary judgment, arguing that its UM coverage did not cover plaintiff's remaining damages. The district court granted the motion and this appeal followed.

The sole issue presented is whether Mr. Walker's UM policy provides coverage for his guest passenger's injuries under the instant factual circumstances, i.e., where a trailer being towed by an insured vehicle becomes disconnected resulting in loss of control of the insured vehicle and an accident ensues. No issue is presented regarding the liability coverage of the host driver's policy.

Plaintiff notes that under the policy the trailer is considered an "insured auto" while connected to the pickup truck. Therefore, plaintiff argues, when the trailer became disconnected from the pickup truck, its status changed from "insured" to "uninsured." The specific policy language at issue is as follows:

Insured Autos

....

(5) A trailer while attached to an insured auto. The trailer must be designed for use with a private passenger auto or utility auto. This trailer can't be used for business purposes with other than a private passenger auto or utility auto.

Defendant, on the other hand, argues that the trailer did not lose its insured status merely because it became disconnected from the towing vehicle. Defendant points out that the accident was caused when the trailer became disconnected while in tow. Accordingly, it argues that, though disconnected, the trailer remained an "insured vehicle" under the policy language.

Louisiana law requires that automobile liability policies issued in this state also provide coverage therein (to the extent of the bodily injury liability coverage) against injury caused by uninsured or underinsured motor vehicles. LSA-R.S. 22:1406D(1)(a)(i).

The object of the UM statute is to promote full recovery for damages sustained by innocent automobile accident victims by making UM coverage available for their benefit as primary protection when the tortfeasor is without insurance and as additional or excess coverage when he is inadequately insured. Bosch v. Cummings, 520 So.2d 721 (La.1988).

As to coverage under the uninsured motorist provisions of a...

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10 cases
  • McGee v. Allstate Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • November 14, 2018
    ...Therefore, a policy provision which requires this result does not violate the terms of the statute.In Gardner v. Allstate Ins. Co. , 575 So.2d 883 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1991), writ denied , 578 So.2d 139 (La. 1991), the plaintiff was injured when a boat trailer became disconnected from the vehic......
  • Nelson v. Robinson, 44,059-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • April 22, 2009
    ...with respect to UM coverage under the same insurance policy. Leboeuf, supra. (Emphasis in original.) In Gardner v. Allstate Insurance Co., 575 So.2d 883 (La.App. 2d Cir.1991), writ denied, 578 So.2d 139 (La.1991), this court noted that the object of the UM statute is to "promote full recove......
  • Smith v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, No. 45,013-CA (La. App. 4/23/2010)
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • April 23, 2010
    ...not lose its insured status when it accidentally became disconnected from the towing vehicle while in tow. See Gardner v. Allstate Ins. Co., 575 So. 2d 883 (La. App. 2d Cir. 1991), writ denied, 578 So. 2d 139 (La. Accordingly, we find no error in the trial court's conclusion that the 1998 D......
  • Smith v. La. Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co., 45
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • April 23, 2010
    ...not lose its insured status when it accidentally became disconnected from the towing vehicle while in tow. See Gardner v. Allstate Ins. Co., 575 So.2d 883 (La.App. 2d Cir.1991), writ denied, 578 So.2d 139 (La.1991). Accordingly, we find no error in the trial court's conclusion that the 1998......
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