Sykora v. Farmers Ins. Co., WD 84445

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKaren King Mitchell, Judge
Citation642 S.W.3d 381
Parties Tracy SYKORA, et al., Respondents, v. FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Appellant.
Docket NumberWD 84445
Decision Date29 March 2022

642 S.W.3d 381

Tracy SYKORA, et al., Respondents,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Appellant.

WD 84445

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

OPINION FILED: March 29, 2022


Steve Garner and Grant Rahmeyer, Springfield, MO, Attorneys for Respondents.

Scott D. Hofer and James P. Maloney, Kansas City, MO, Attorneys for Appellant.

Before Division One: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge, and Karen King Mitchell and Gary D. Witt, Judges

Karen King Mitchell, Judge

Farmers Insurance Company, Inc., appeals from the grant of summary judgment in favor of Tracy Sykora, et al., on the petition for equitable garnishment. Farmers raises four points on appeal: (1) error in denying Farmers's motion for summary judgment; (2) error in granting Sykora's motion for summary judgment because Sykora was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law in that Farmers had no duty to defend; (3) error in granting Sykora's motion for summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact; and (4) error in granting Sykora's motion for summary judgment because Sykora was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law in that a policy exclusion applied. But, because the judgment below is not final, we dismiss this appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

Background

On April 21, 2014, Joseph Surratt drove his vehicle while intoxicated and struck George Sykora's vehicle, causing George's death.1 Joseph later pled guilty to first-degree

642 S.W.3d 383

involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. George's wife Tracy Sykora and their two children sued Joseph for wrongful death and obtained a judgment awarding $22,500,000 in damages. The wrongful death action initially named Chad and Kristy Surratt (Joseph's parents) as defendants as well under the theory of negligent entrustment with respect to Joseph. The petition alleged that, though he was over 18 years old at the time, Joseph was living with Chad and Kristy and was unable to make decisions for himself as a result of drug usage, and Chad and Kristy were aware of and enabled Joseph's drug usage.

At the time of George's death, Chad and Kristy had an automobile insurance policy with Farmers. The policy identified Chad and Kristy as the "named insured[s]," with an address of 4408 SW Admiral Byrd Dr., Lee's Summit, Missouri. The policy did not identify Joseph by name as a "household driver," but it did provide:

We will pay damages for which any insured person is legally liable because of bodily injury to any person and property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a private passenger car , a utility car , or a utility trailer .

We will defend any claim or suit asking for these damages . We may settle when we consider it appropriate. We will not defend any suit or make additional payments after we have paid the limit of liability for the coverage.

...

Insured person as used in this part means:

1. You or any family member .

The policy defines "family member" as follows: "Family member means a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of your household."

In conjunction with the wrongful death suit, Sykora issued a demand letter to Farmers to pay out the limit of its policy. Farmers rejected Sykora's demand, asserting that...

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