Sanders v. Insurance Co. of N.America

Citation42 S.W.3d 1
Parties(Mo.App. W.D. 2001) . Linda M. Sanders, Appellant, v. Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Insurance Company, ABF Freight System, Inc., Respondents. WD57288 Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Handdown Date: 0
Decision Date16 January 2001
CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Jackson County, Hon. Gene R. Martin

Counsel for Appellant: Dennis E. Egan

Counsel for Respondent: Paul L. Wickens, James M. Yeretsky, Christopher L. Heigele and Alan E. Coon

Opinion Summary: Linda M. Sanders, appellant, is the widow of George D. Sanders. Mr. Sanders was employed as a semitractor-trailer driver for Arkansas Best Freight Systems, Inc. ("ABF"). On October 13, 1986, Mr. Sanders was driving an ABF truck in southeast Missouri when the driver of another semitruck, Jerry Wayne Page, lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centerline, and struck the truck Mr. Sanders was driving head-on. Mr. Sanders died from the injuries he sustained in the automobile accident. Mr. Page was also killed in the accident, and it was later determined that he was an uninsured motorist. In September 1987, Mrs. Sanders entered into a settlement agreement with ABF, Arkansas Best Corporation ("ABC"), and the Insurance Company of North America ("INA"). Pursuant to the settlement agreement, she collected $25,000.00, which was represented to be the limit of liability under the uninsured motorist provision of the insurance policy that covered Mr. Sanders' truck. The settlement agreement was approved by a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, on September 11, 1987.

In 1992, Mrs. Sanders filed suit against ABF, INA, and Cigna Insurance Company. Mrs. Sanders' amended petition generally alleged that the defendants had represented to her, first, that ABF's insurance policy did not provide uninsured motorist coverage and, thereafter, that the policy did provide such coverage but the limit of liability was $25,000.00. She further alleged that as a result of these representations she entered into the settlement agreement that was subsequently approved by the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County. The amended petition also alleged that these representations were untrue and that the policy provided uninsured motorist coverage with either no limit to that coverage or a limit of $1,000,000.00. In the first count, she prayed that the court declare the prior settlement agreement null and void as a result of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentations and that the court set aside that agreement and award her damages equal to the actual limits of liability under the uninsured motorist coverage. In Count II, she prayed for a wrongful death judgment and that the insurance defendants be held liable for damages under a separate insurance policy and for vexatious refusal to pay pursuant to Sections 375.296 and 375.420.1. Finally, in Count III, Mrs. Sanders asked the court to declare the judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County approving the settlement to be null and void as a result of fraudulent misrepresentations and asked the court to award her damages equal to the limits of liability of the uninsured motorist coverage.

The defendants all filed answers in which they generally denied Mrs. Sanders' allegations. In addition, INA and Cigna Ins. Co. filed a cross-claim against ABF for reformation of the insurance policy issued to ABF so as to limit uninsured motorist coverage to the statutory minimum, and they filed a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment. In its response to the cross-claim for reformation, ABF joined in INA and Cigna Ins. Co. in requesting reformation of the policy. Subsequently, the trial court found all issues in favor of the defendants, and Mrs. Sanders brings this appeal.

AFFIRMED.

Division III holds: (1) The denial of a motion for summary judgment is not an appealable order, and Mrs. Sanders' claims related to the trial court's denial of her motion for summary judgment will not be reviewed by the Court.

(2) The record contained substantial and competent evidence that Mrs. Sanders did not rely on the alleged representations that policy number ISA 1400 did not provide uninsured motorist coverage, and accordingly, Mrs. Sanders failed to establish the reliance element for her claims of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation.

(3) The representations that policy number ISA 1400 provided only the statutory minimum uninsured motorist coverage were true and do not provide a basis to rescind the settlement agreement for fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation.

(4) Policy number ISA 1400 is not ambiguous and is limited on its face to the statutory minimum uninsured motorist coverage.

(5) Mrs. Sanders could not have been prejudiced by the trial court's admission of evidence related to trucking industry practice in the purchase of uninsured motorist coverage and any error in its admission would have been harmless.

(6) The trial court's denial of rescission of the settlement agreement was dispositive of Mrs. Sanders' claim, and any error relating to the other two judgments rendered by the trial court are irrelevant to her case.

(7) Mrs. Sanders failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that Cigna Insurance Company was a proper party to this action, and the trial court did not err in granting Cigna's motion for judgment at the close of plaintiff's evidence.

(8) On the record, there was no genuine dispute over the fact that there were no negotiations, proposals, intent, meeting of the minds, agreement, acceptance of terms or consideration between ABF and any insurer for the issuance of any policy of insurance other than ISA 1400. Likewise, there was no genuine dispute over the fact that CAL 233569 is an underlyer memorandum to ISA 1400 issued unilaterally for the sole purpose of compliance with Texas regulatory requirements. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting INA's separate motion for summary judgment.

1. All statutory references are to RSMo. 1994 unless otherwise indicated.

Opinion Author: Joseph M. Ellis, Judge

Opinion Vote: AFFIRMED. Smith, P.J., Ulrich and Ellis, JJ., concur.

Opinion:

Linda M. Sanders, appellant, is the widow of George D. Sanders. Mr. Sanders was employed as a semitractor-trailer driver for Arkansas Best Freight Systems, Inc. ("ABF"). On October 13, 1986, Mr. Sanders was driving an ABF truck in southeast Missouri when the driver of another semitruck, Jerry Wayne Page, lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centerline, and struck the truck Mr. Sanders was driving head-on. Mr. Sanders died from the injuries he sustained in the automobile accident. Mr. Page was also killed in the accident, and it was later determined that he was an uninsured motorist. In September 1987, Mrs. Sanders entered into a settlement agreement with ABF, Arkansas Best Corporation ("ABC"), and the Insurance Company of North America ("INA").1 Pursuant to the settlement agreement, she collected $25,000.00, which was represented to be the limit of liability under the uninsured motorist provision of the insurance policy that covered Mr. Sanders' truck. The settlement agreement was approved by a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, on September 11, 1987. In 1992, Mrs. Sanders filed suit against ABF, INA, and Cigna Insurance Company.2 Mrs. Sanders' amended petition generally alleged that the defendants had represented to her, first, that ABF's insurance policy did not provide uninsured motorist coverage and, thereafter, that the policy did provide such coverage but the limit of liability was $25,000.00. She further alleged that as a result of these representations she entered into the settlement agreement that was subsequently approved by the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County. The amended petition also alleged that these representations were untrue and that the policy provided uninsured motorist coverage with either no limit to that coverage or a limit of $1,000,000.00. In the first count, she prayed that the court declare the prior settlement agreement null and void as a result of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentations and that the court set aside that agreement and award her damages equal to the actual limits of liability under the uninsured motorist coverage. In Count II, she prayed for a wrongful death judgment and that the insurance defendants be held liable for damages under a separate insurance policy and for vexatious refusal to pay pursuant to Sections 375.296 and 375.420.3 Finally, in Count III, Mrs. Sanders asked the court to declare the judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County approving the settlement to be null and void as a result of fraudulent misrepresentations and asked the court to award her damages equal to the limits of liability of the uninsured motorist coverage.

The defendants all filed answers in which they generally denied Mrs. Sanders' allegations. In addition, INA and Cigna Ins. Co. filed a cross-claim against ABF for reformation of the insurance policy issued to ABF so as to limit uninsured motorist coverage to the statutory minimum, and they filed a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment. In its response to the cross-claim for reformation, ABF joined INA and Cigna Ins. Co. in requesting reformation of the policy. As will be explained in more detail, infra, the trial court found all issues in favor of the defendants, and Mrs. Sanders brings this appeal.

BACKGROUND
I. The Insurance Policies

In 1979, INA began underwriting automobile liability insurance, comprehensive general liability insurance, and workers' compensation insurance for ABC on a nation-wide basis. Before any policies were issued, a written proposal was provided by INA to ABC setting forth in general terms the coverage provided by the policy and the premiums charged. As to liability limits and uninsured motorists (UM) coverage, the...

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