Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., No. 26858.

CourtIdaho Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtKIDWELL, Justice.
Citation46 P.3d 510,137 Idaho 214
Decision Date16 April 2002
Docket NumberNo. 26858.
PartiesHarold K. HOWARD and Zola Howard, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. OREGON MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation, Defendant-Respondent.

46 P.3d 510
137 Idaho 214

Harold K. HOWARD and Zola Howard, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
OREGON MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation, Defendant-Respondent

No. 26858.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise, January 2002 Term.

April 16, 2002.

Rehearing Denied May 17, 2002.


46 P.3d 511
Gordon Law Offices, Chartered, Boise, for appellants. Bruce S. Bistline argued

Brady Law, Chartered, Boise, for respondent. Michael G. Brady argued.

KIDWELL, Justice.

This is a dispute regarding the interpretation of uninsured/underinsured motorists provisions in an insurance policy issued by Oregon Mutual Insurance Company (Oregon Mutual) to Harold and Zola Howard (the Howards). The Howards brought an action against Oregon Mutual seeking a declaratory judgment and damages for breach of contract and bad faith. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Oregon Mutual, finding that the policy's uninsured/underinsured motorists offset provisions unambiguously precluded recovery by the Howards. We affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Howards were insured under an auto policy issued by the defendant, Oregon Mutual. The Howards' policy provided property damage and bodily injury liability coverage with a combined single limit of $300,000.00 per occurrence, medical payment coverage of $5,000.00 per person, and uninsured/underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage with a limit of $50,000.00 per occurrence. On October 19, 1996, Mr. Howard was driving his insured vehicle near Cascade, Idaho, when a vehicle driven by Cindy Pearce crossed the centerline and collided head-on with Mr. Howard's vehicle, injuring Mr. Howard. Pearce was insured under an auto liability policy issued by American Concepts Insurance. American Concepts paid the policy limit of $50,000.00 to the Howards.

The Howards then made a demand upon Oregon Mutual for payment under their policy's UIM coverage. The Howards claimed that they had sustained more than $100,000.00 in damages as a result of the accident and that they were entitled to payment of the full $50,000.00 limit of their UIM coverage. Oregon Mutual refused to pay on two grounds. It asserted that the Pearce vehicle was not an underinsured vehicle as defined in the Howards' policy and that, even if the Pearce vehicle was an underinsured vehicle, the relevant offset provision of the policy relieved Oregon Mutual of any duty to pay. The policy language will be set forth in the analysis section below.

The Howards filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that they were entitled to recover the full $50,000.00 limit of their UIM coverage. They also sought damages for breach of contract and for insurance bad faith. The Howards moved for partial summary judgment regarding their declaratory judgment claim, and the district court denied the motion. The Howards filed a motion for reconsideration, and the district court reaffirmed its denial of their motion for partial summary judgment. Based upon the district court's denial of the Howards' motion and its indication that the policy unambiguously precluded coverage as a matter of law, both parties agreed that partial summary judgment should be entered in favor of Oregon Mutual, dismissing the Howards' declaratory judgment claim. Accordingly, the district court entered partial summary judgment for

46 P.3d 512
Oregon Mutual, dismissing the declaratory judgment claim. The parties further agreed that, in light of the district court's grant of summary judgment on the declaratory judgment claim, the Howards could not prevail upon their claims for breach of contract and insurance bad faith. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing those claims as well. The Howards have appealed as to all three of their claims

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

On appeal from the grant of a motion for summary judgment, this Court employs the same standard to be used by the district court originally ruling on the motion. Kelso v. Lance, 134 Idaho 373, 374-75, 3 P.3d 51, 52-53 (2000). Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(c). This Court liberally construes all disputed facts and draws all reasonable inferences and conclusions supported by the record in favor of the nonmoving party. Kelso, 134 Idaho at 375, 3 P.3d at 53. If reasonable people could reach different conclusions or draw conflicting inferences from the evidence, the motion must be denied. Id.

As to issues of law, this Court exercises free review of the trial court's decision. Bouten Constr. Co. v. H.F. Magnuson Co., 133 Idaho 756, 760, 992 P.2d 751, 755 (1999).

III.

ANALYSIS

The relevant policy provisions that were in place at the time of the accident are contained in the "AMENDATORY UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE" portion of the Howards' policy. That portion of the policy replaces the original Part III of the policy and provides, in relevant part:

Part III—Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage
The Company will pay damages for bodily injury which the insured shall be legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle....
The Company will pay under this coverage only after the limits of liability under any applicable bodily injury liability policies or bonds have been used up in payments or settlements or judgments.
....
Definitions Used In This Section Only
....
9. "Uninsured/Underinsured motor vehicle" means a land motor vehicle or trailer which is:
....
d. insured by bodily injury policies or bonds at the time of the auto accident, but the sum of the limits of liability under all such bodily injury liability policies or bonds applicable at the time of the accident is less than the applicable limits of liability under this insurance ....
....
LIMITS OF LIABILITY SPLIT LIMIT
The limit of liability shown in the Declarations for "each person" for this coverage is the Company's maximum limit of liability for all damages for bodily injury sustained by any one person in any one auto accident. Subject to this limit for each person, the limit of liability shown in the Declarations for each accident for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is the Company's maximum limit of liability for all damages for bodily injury resulting from any one auto accident.
This is the most the Company will pay regardless of the number of insured persons, claims made, vehicles or premiums shown in the declarations, vehicles involved in the auto accident or policies issued to the insured by the Company.
SINGLE LIMIT
The limit of liability shown in the
...

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32 practice notes
  • Weinstein v. Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Docket No. 34970-2008 (Idaho 6/1/2010), Docket No. 34970-2008.
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
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    ...Armstrong v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Idaho, 147 Idaho 67, 69, 205 P.3d 1203, 1205 (2009) (quoting from Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 217, 46 P.3d 510, 513 In this case, Liberty Mutual misconstrued the policy as to its obligation to make payments under the MedPay coverage, and i......
  • Lovey v. Régence BlueShield of Idaho, No. 28949.
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    ...construing a contract, a court must first decide whether it is ambiguous, which is a question of law. Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 46 P.3d 510 (2002). A contractual provision will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations. Id. Because th......
  • Brent H. Greenwald Dba, Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. v. W. Sur. Co., Docket No. 45404
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 15, 2019
    ..."An insurance policy will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations." Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 218, 46 P.3d 510, 514 (2002). "In determining whether a particular provision is ambiguous, the provision must be read within the context i......
  • Greenwald v. Western Surety Co., Docket No. 45404
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 15, 2019
    ...insurance policy will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations." Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co. , 137 Idaho 214, 218, 46 P.3d 510, 514 (2002)."In determining whether a particular provision is ambiguous, the provision must be read within the context in wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Weinstein v. Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Docket No. 34970-2008 (Idaho 6/1/2010), Docket No. 34970-2008.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 1, 2010
    ...Armstrong v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Idaho, 147 Idaho 67, 69, 205 P.3d 1203, 1205 (2009) (quoting from Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 217, 46 P.3d 510, 513 In this case, Liberty Mutual misconstrued the policy as to its obligation to make payments under the MedPay coverage, and i......
  • Lovey v. Régence BlueShield of Idaho, No. 28949.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 18, 2003
    ...construing a contract, a court must first decide whether it is ambiguous, which is a question of law. Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 46 P.3d 510 (2002). A contractual provision will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations. Id. Because th......
  • Brent H. Greenwald Dba, Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. v. W. Sur. Co., Docket No. 45404
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 15, 2019
    ..."An insurance policy will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations." Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co., 137 Idaho 214, 218, 46 P.3d 510, 514 (2002). "In determining whether a particular provision is ambiguous, the provision must be read within the context i......
  • Greenwald v. Western Surety Co., Docket No. 45404
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 15, 2019
    ...insurance policy will be found ambiguous if it is reasonably subject to conflicting interpretations." Howard v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co. , 137 Idaho 214, 218, 46 P.3d 510, 514 (2002)."In determining whether a particular provision is ambiguous, the provision must be read within the context in wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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