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Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Trissell

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

December 5, 2017

ALLSTATE FIRE and CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
BERNIE and MICHAEL TRISSELL, Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs.

          Jennifer A. Noya (Anna E. Indahl with her on the briefs), Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, P.A., Albuquerque, New Mexico for Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant.

          Brian G. Grayson, Grayson Law Office, LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul Kelly, Jr. United States Circuit Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes on for consideration of Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant Allstate's Motion for Summary Judgment filed September 18, 2017, ECF No. 15, and Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs Bernie and Michael Trissell's Motion for Summary Judgment filed September 18, 2017, ECF No. 16. Plaintiff Allstate filed this declaratory judgment action urging that (1) the Trissells selected non-stacked uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage, and their selection was valid under New Mexico law, (2) the policy provides only non-stacked UM/UIM coverage of $25, 000 per person and $50, 000 per accident, and (3) Allstate has not acted in bad faith in so interpreting the policy. Defendants filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment that Allstate failed to properly offer stacked coverage and did not obtain a valid rejection of stacked coverage. The Trissells seek reformation of the policy to provide stacked UM/UIM coverage of $75, 000 per person and $150, 000 per accident, and they also counterclaim for breach of contract, violations of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act, insurance bad faith, and punitive damages. ECF No. 6 at 6-11. The court will grant summary judgment in favor of Allstate and deny the Trissells' motion for summary judgment. Because the court concludes that Allstate's decision on the Trissells' stacking claim was proper, the court will enter judgment on the counterclaim in favor of Allstate.[1]

         Background

         The following facts are uncontroverted by the parties. On January 30, 2016, the Trissells were involved in auto accident when they were struck by an intoxicated driver. ECF No. 15 at 2, UDF[2] No. 1. The Trissells were insured under an Allstate policy that insured three vehicles, including the one involved in the accident. Id., UDF No. 2. Each vehicle carried UM/UIM bodily injury insurance of $25, 000 per person, $50, 000 per accident. ECF No. 16 at 2, UDF No. 5. The Trissells claim that as a result of the accident, their injuries are greater than that available under the tortfeasor's policy and that they should be allowed to stack their UM/UIM benefits under the Allstate policy. ECF No. 15 at 3, UDF No. 5. The Trissells initialed a form indicating that they selected non- stacked UM/UIM for bodily injury and non-stacked UIM for property damage. Id., UDF No. 7. That form provides in pertinent part:

         I select non-stacked Uninsured Motorists Insurance for Bodily Injury and non-stacked Uninsured Motorists Insurance for Property Damages at limits:

MDT (initials) equal to my Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Insurance limits of $25, 000/$50, 000/$50, 000 for all vehicles on the policy, for $121.66

Id. After signing the UM/UIM Selection/Rejection Form in April 2015 and prior to the accident, the Trissells never informed Allstate in writing that they wanted a change in the UM/UIM selection. Id. at 4, UDF No. 9.

         The Trissells' position is that Allstate and its form are noncompliant with New Mexico law regarding the selection and rejection of UM/UIM coverage and stacking. ECF No. 19 at 3; ECF No. 16 at 6-7. They contend that Allstate's form is invalid because

• It does not provide a menu list with the price of UM/UIM coverage for each vehicle for the available level of coverage on each vehicle.
• It does not show the available levels of stacked coverage per vehicle with a corresponding price per vehicle.
• It does not contain a per-vehicle rejection of UM/UIM on each vehicle.

         ECF No. 16 at 3-4. The Trissells argue that these deficiencies mean that they were not properly informed about the premium costs corresponding to the available levels of coverage; thus, the form and their rejection are invalid and the policy must be reformed. Id. They also maintain that Allstate failed to incorporate their rejection into ...


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