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Crespin v. Safeco Insurance Co. of America

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

August 14, 2018

JESSICA CRESPIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Defendant-Appellee, and TRAVIS BAINBRIDGE and FABIAN FIERRO, Defendants.

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Nan G. Nash, District Judge.

          Atkins & Walker, P.A. Tyler J. Atkins Samuel H. Walker Albuquerque, NM for Appellant

          Ray, McChristian & Jeans, P.C. Shannon A. Parden Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

          OPINION

          HENRY M. BOHNHOFF, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendants Fabian Fierro, age 18, and Travis Bainbridge, age 19, picked up Plaintiff Jessica Crespin, age 14, from her school in an uninsured vehicle. They drove to Fierro's mother's house where Fierro had sexual relations with Crespin and Bainbridge sexually assaulted her. Crespin's mother had purchased an automobile liability insurance policy issued by Safeco Insurance Company of America (Safeco) that contained uninsured motorist coverage which extended to Crespin. Crespin brought this action after Safeco denied Crespin's claim for uninsured motorist coverage for the incident. Following Crespin's presentation of her case-in-chief at a bench trial, the district court ruled in favor of Safeco and dismissed Crespin's claim for uninsured motorist coverage. Crespin now appeals. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         {¶2} The parties do not challenge any of the district court's findings of fact, which we summarize below.

         {¶3} In February 2009, Crespin texted with Fierro and Bainbridge, and they made plans for the men to pick her up from her middle school the following day. Crespin had known Fierro for about three years and previously had sexual relations with him. As of the day of the text exchange, Crespin believed that Bainbridge was her boyfriend, but she had not had sexual relations with him. Bainbridge and Fierro wanted and expected to have sexual relations with Crespin the following day but did not say this in their texts with her.

         {¶4} The following day, Fierro drove an uninsured car owned by Fierro's mother to Crespin's school; Bainbridge was a passenger in the car. Crespin planned on going to the mall with Bainbridge and returning to school before classes let out for the day. Crespin told her teacher that she had to use the restroom; she went outside to meet Fierro and Bainbridge and willingly opened the car door and got in. Fierro and Bainbridge did not tell Crespin that they planned to have sexual relations with her before she got into or while they were riding in the vehicle. Crespin was not physically restrained or otherwise forced to stay in the car, nor was she sexually assaulted or harmed while she was in the car. Bainbridge testified that he would not have picked up Crespin from school that day if he had not had use of a car.

         {¶5} When the three arrived at Fierro's mother's house, Crespin exited the vehicle on her own volition and entered the house with Bainbridge and Fierro. Crespin was introduced to Janet Roybal, Fierro's mother. When Crespin was introduced to Ms. Roybal she was not crying or acting afraid or distressed. Crespin, Fierro, and Bainbridge then went upstairs to talk and listen to music. Prior to going upstairs, Bainbridge and Fierro did not tell Crespin and she otherwise did not know that they intended to have sexual relations with her.

         {¶6} After listening to music for about twenty minutes, Fierro and Crespin went into a different room and had sexual relations. After Fierro had sexual relations with Crespin, he fell asleep, and Crespin went into the room where Bainbridge was. Bainbridge then sexually assaulted Crespin by having sexual relations with her. Neither Fierro nor Bainbridge used physical force or otherwise physically restrained Crespin prior to or while having sexual relations with her. Bainbridge, however, knew that having sexual relations with Crespin was wrong because he knew she was a minor; he had expressed these feelings earlier to Fierro.

         {¶7} Sometime later, Crespin left Fierro's home. She had extra clothes in her backpack, and she dressed in those clothes before she left. She went to the closest Wal-Mart and called her cousin to pick her up. Crespin then reported the sexual acts to her mother and was taken to the emergency room. Fierro initially had placed the clothes that Crespin had left in the attic of his mother's home, but later moved and hid them under the seat of the vehicle in which they had ridden to get to the home.

         {¶8} Fierro and Bainbridge were subsequently arrested and charged with a number of crimes based upon these events. In early 2011, Bainbridge pled guilty to bribery of a witness, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit criminal sexual penetration in the second degree, conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, criminal sexual penetration in the fourth degree, and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment. In late 20 11, Fierro pled guilty to bribery of a witness, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit criminal sexual penetration in the second degree, conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment.

         {¶9} In late 2012, Crespin's attorney notified Safeco that Crespin had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in February 2009, and made a demand for uninsured motorist coverage under the policy that Safeco had issued to Crespin's mother. Crespin was an insured under the policy. The uninsured motorist provision in the policy provides in relevant part:

         We will pay damages for which an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an:

1. Uninsured motor vehicle or underinsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury:
a. sustained by an insured; and
b. caused by an accident.
The owner's or operator's liability for these damages must arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the uninsured motor ...

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