Vickery Ins. Agency, Inc. v. Chambers, A94A1519

Decision Date25 October 1994
Docket NumberNo. A94A1519,A94A1519
Citation449 S.E.2d 885,215 Ga.App. 48
PartiesVICKERY INSURANCE AGENCY, INC. v. CHAMBERS.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Harrison & Harrison, Stephen P. Harrison, Brunswick, for appellant.

William H. Turner, Jr., Jonesboro, for appellee.

McMURRAY, Presiding Judge.

Plaintiff Vickery Insurance Agency, Inc. brought this breach of contract action against defendant Marsha S. Chambers d/b/a Auto Motion, alleging that it had renewed a garage liability insurance policy "at the request of the defendant." The complaint further alleged that the renewal premium quoted by plaintiff and "agreed to by the defendant was $13,225.68." Plaintiff applied a $2,500 credit balance owed defendant to the down payment and notified plaintiff that an additional payment of approximately $700 was necessary. However, "defendant failed and refused to pay the premiums as agreed upon...." The insurer issued a policy effective September 26, 1992, but cancelled the same effective March 3, 1993, for the stated reason: "ENDORSEMENTS NOT SIGNED AND RETURNED." Plaintiff demanded "$2,880.20 for premiums not paid by the defendant and, in addition, lost $580.00 in commission...." Plaintiff also sought attorney fees, claiming defendant had acted in bad faith and had been stubbornly litigious. Defendant denied the material allegations, claiming that no agreement to renew "[ever] existed as the parties never had a meeting of the minds[,]" and counterclaimed for her deposit "in the amount of $2,700.00...."

At a jury trial, the evidence showed that defendant's business is an "auto shuttle service delivering cars from dealerships to the auction and back." J. Charles Vickery, plaintiff's president and "CEO," related conversations he had held with defendant's husband, Henry R. Chambers, to establish the formation of an agreement to renew the existing insurance for Marsha S. Chambers' business. According to J. Charles Vickery, "Mr. Chambers contacted [him] around September of 1990 and asked that [he] come to see him [Henry R. Chambers] about writing an insurance policy for the business that they were opening up." J. Charles Vickery met the Chamberses at their home. "[Marsha S. Chambers] was in our conversations when we talked about the coverages ... [but it was Henry R. Chambers who] handled most of the conversations...." When asked whether he was ever told by Mrs. Chambers that he could deal with her husband in the business, J. Charles Vickery replied: "Well, I never really talked to her anymore that I can remember. Over the next two years I dealt exclusively with him." Henry R. Chambers agreed that "[he] talked to Mr. Vickery many times, okay, and it was on different things. You know, claims may have been one of them. I did try to help my wife in her business." In early September 1992, J. Charles Vickery quoted Henry R. Chambers an annual premium "in the neighborhood of thirty-eight thousand dollars ($38,000)[,]" to renew existing coverage. Henry R. Chambers "told him [Mr. Vickery] she'd be out of business; she couldn't do that.... It was not acceptable at all, but [he would] have to talk to her about it." J. Charles Vickery and Henry R. Chambers discussed alternative coverages, including a suggestion by the insurer that the Chamberses could change "to a named driver basis and select permanent drivers to drive year round." The annual premium for ten permanent drivers would be $13,225.60. "Mr. Chambers told [Mr. Vickery] that whatever [Mr. Vickery] did, do not let me [Mr. Chambers] go a day without insurance. And we agreed on the thirteen thousand, two twenty five, sixty ($13,225.60) for ten operators." Sometime in November 1992, "Mr. Chambers provided [Mr. Vickery] with ten operators that he'd use on a full time basis." J. Charles Vickery turned this list over to Strickland General Agency and a policy was issued in mid-December 1992.

On December 23, 1992, Mrs. Chambers came to J. Charles Vickery's office intending "to sign a cancellation request to cancel the policy." She informed Mr. Vickery that "Mr. Chambers was going to purchase insurance from another agency[. In reply, Mr. Vickery] informed [Mrs. Chambers] that if they had not paid somebody else money already that they didn't have any coverage with this other company that he had said that they were buying insurance from." Mrs. Chambers spoke with her husband using Mr. Vickery's telephone and left his office without signing any request for cancellation.

Evidence in opposition showed that Mrs. Chambers "own[ed] the business. [She ran] the business, and it was up to [her] to take care of the business, not [her] husband." She had a checking account for her business and did "the book work[; ...] the paperwork[; she wrote] the checks, and [she made] the final decisions about the business...." The two policies plaintiff had previously obtained specified only Marsha Chambers as the named insured. Payments on these policies were made by Mrs. Chambers from the account of her trade name. She never signed the endorsement to the policy identifying the ten covered drivers as specified in the list Henry R. Chambers submitted to plaintiff. Nevertheless, she conceded that her husband generally "assists [her] in getting business at the auction when he's out there[,]" and that specifically, "[h]e made some calls to Mr. Vickery."

At the close of the evidence, the trial court directed a verdict in favor of defendant, concluding that there was no evidence of a meeting of the minds between plaintiff and defendant. Plaintiff appeals from the final judgment entered pursuant to that directed verdict. Held:

It is undisputed that no direct negotiations between J. Charles Vickery and Marsha S. Chambers ever took place. It is further undisputed that Mrs. Chambers never signed any endorsement specifying the ten permanent drivers, as required by the insurer. Plaintiff nevertheless contends the trial court erred in directing the...

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9 cases
  • Stewart v. Storch
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 8, 2005
    ...at 290-291 (II), 123 S.Ct. 824. 6. For cases dealing with husband/wife agent/principal relationships, see Vickery Ins. Agency v. Chambers, 215 Ga.App. 48, 50, 449 S.E.2d 885 (1994), and Aronoff v. Woodard, 47 Ga.App. 725, 171 S.E. 404 (1933). 7. See Hobbs v. Principal Financial Group, 230 G......
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    ...with all reasonable deductions therefrom, shall demand a particular verdict(.)' OCGA § 9-11-50(a)." Vickery Ins. Agency v. Chambers, 215 Ga.App. 48, 50, 449 S.E.2d 885. "In determining whether any conflict in the evidence exists, the court must construe the evidence most favorably to the pa......
  • Graphic Arts Mut. Ins. Co. v. Pritchett
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    • Georgia Court of Appeals
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    ...In addition, Donald acted as Linda's agent in making the misrepresentations; that also bars her recovery. See Vickery Ins. Agency v. Chambers, 215 Ga.App. 48, 449 S.E.2d 885 (1994). "The principal shall be bound by all the acts of his agent within the scope of his authority." OCGA § 10-6-51......
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    ...not ratify in part and repudiate in part; he shall adopt either the whole or none." OCGA § 10-6-51; see Vickery Ins. Agency v. Chambers, 215 Ga.App. 48, 50-51, 449 S.E.2d 885 (1994). It was error to rule as a matter of law that T & B had not ratified Lovett's As T & B points to no evidence ......
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