United States District Court, D. New Mexico
M. Dominguez, Dominguez Law Firm, LLC, Albuquerque, New
Mexico, for Plaintiff.
R. Guebert and Elizabeth M. Piazza, Guebert Bruckner P.C.,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Co.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT STATE
FARM'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MATTER comes before the court on Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment on the validity of its uninsured and unknown
motorists coverage rejection form and corresponding premium
table, filed April 26, 2018 (ECF No. 42). In her response,
Plaintiff has attempted to cross-move for summary judgment,
but the court agrees with State Farm that a separate motion
is required. CM/ECF Administrative Procedures Manual, §
9(f)(2) (rev. Aug. 2017). Upon consideration thereof, State
Farm's motion is well taken and should be granted and
Plaintiff's attempted cross-motion for partial summary
judgment should be denied.
filed this declaratory judgment action against Defendants
Build NM, her employer, and State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Co., her employer's insurer, alleging that
Defendants failed to provide her with uninsured/underinsured
motorist coverage (UM coverage) for an automobile accident
that occurred during the scope of her employment. Compl. 1-3,
6, ECF No. 1-2. The court dismissed Build NM as fraudulently
joined to defeat diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 19 at 6.
After granting Ms. Foy leave to amend her complaint, the
court dismissed her added defendant, a local State Farm
agent, as a dispensable, non-diverse defendant. ECF No. 46 at
7. The court declined to reconsider that ruling. ECF No. 164
to the facts, Ms. Foy was struck from behind by Nicole Chacon
on July 3, 2013. At the time of the accident, Ms. Foy was
driving a vehicle insured by State Farm under a policy issued
to Build New Mexico, her employer. The policy provided
liability coverage for bodily injury of $1 million each
person / $1 million each accident and UM coverage of $100,
000 each person / $300, 000 each accident. Ms. Foy contends
that State Farm did not obtain a valid rejection of UM
coverage and did not provide her with an appropriate menu of
UM coverage options and associated premiums. Accordingly, she
contends that she is entitled to reformation of the policy to
provide of $1 million each person / $1 million each accident
of UM coverage.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court views the facts in the light
most favorable to a party opposing summary judgment. See
Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012, 2017 (2014).
Disputes about immaterial issues of fact will not preclude
summary judgment. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986). Given a properly supported summary judgment
motion, the non-movant must come forward with
“significantly probative” evidence that could
permit a trier of fact to find in her favor. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986). In
this removed diversity case, the court applies New Mexico
substantive law and federal procedural law. Gasperini v.
Ctr. for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996).
Mexico law requires insurers to offer UM/UIM coverage up to
the liability limits of the policy. N.M. Stat. §
66-5-301(A) & (B) (2018). Insureds have the right to
reject such coverage, Id. § 66-5-301(C), but
before such coverage is excluded, an insurer must obtain a
valid rejection. Jordan v. Allstate Ins. Co., 245
P.3d 1214, 1221 (N.M. 2010). The rejection must be in writing
and must be made part of the policy. N.M. Code R. §
22.214.171.124 (2018). The statute and its implementing regulation
are intended to expand coverage and protect members of the
public from the hazard of at-fault uninsured or under-insured
motorists. See Romero v. Dairyland Ins. Co., 803
P.2d 243, 245 (N.M. 1990) (citing Chavez v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 533 P.2d 100 (N.M. 1975) and
Sandoval v. Valdez, 580 P.2d 131 (N.M. Ct. App.
1978)). Accordingly, these provisions are interpreted
liberally to further their remedial purpose; providing the
maximum of UM/UIM coverage is the default rule, and
exceptions are construed strictly to protect an insured.
Jordan, 245 P.3d at 1219.
Progressive Nw. Ins. Co. v. Weed Warrior Servs., 245
P.3d 1209, 1213 (N.M. 2010), the New Mexico Supreme Court
held that an insurer must offer UM/UIM limits up to the
liability limits of the policy and that an insured's
decision to purchase a lower amount constitutes a rejection
of the maximum amount. Accord Lueras v. GEICO Gen. Ins.
Co., No. A-1-CA-34961, 2018 WL 2999630, at *6 (N.M. Ct.
App. June 14, 2018).
the New Mexico Supreme Court explained what is necessary for
an effective rejection of UM/UIM coverage:
In these cases, we detail for the first time the technical
requirements for a valid rejection of UM/UIM coverage in an
amount equal to liability limits. By requiring insurance
carriers to list premium costs corresponding to each
available UM/UIM coverage level, we are providing specific
guidance concerning the form and manner that valid offers and
rejections of UM/UIM insurance must take to comply with
controlling statutory and regulatory provisions.
Jordan, 245 P.3d at 1222. The court requires
insurers to “provide the insured with the premium
charges corresponding to each available option for UM/UIM
coverage so that the insured can make a knowing and
intelligent decision to receive or reject ...