JSH Reporter Summer 2015 - Page 28

TRIALCOURTDECISIONS 028 Grovers v. Allied Insurance and AMCO Insurance January 21, 2015 Maricopa County Superior Court Jeff Collins and Michael Hensley Michael Hensley and Jeff Collins prevailed on summary judgment in a declaratory judgment/coverage litigation involving: (1) a choice of law issue (Minnesota or Arizona), and (2) an issue regarding “stacking” of Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) under Minnesota law (the law the court found applicable to the case). The net effect of this victory was to save the carrier over one million dollars in additional UM/UIM benefits. In this case, Plaintiffs traveled to Arizona from Minnesota and were involved in a car/motorcycle collision. Mr. Plaintiff was driving the motorcycle with Mrs. Plaintiff as his passenger. As they went through an intersection, a car turned in front of them, causing the accident. Both Plaintiffs suffered severe injuries with the combined medical expenses exceeding one million dollars. The at fault driver had minimum limits insurance. Plaintiffs’ motorcycle insurer paid $100,000 in UIM coverage for each Plaintiff. Plaintiffs sought to “stack” additional UM/ UIM coverage from policies they had on other cars and motorhomes onto what they had already received from the motorcycle insurer. The JSH client insurance companies contended that, under Minnesota law, they did not owe UM/ UIM coverage on top of what was already covered. Plaintiffs then sued the carriers who insured their motorhome and automobiles, seeking $250,000 for Mr. and Mrs. Plaintiff, under each of the two polices, for a total of $1 million. They asked the court to declare that Arizona law applied and that Arizona law allowed them to stack the multiple UM/UIM coverages under policies insuring a variety of vehicles. One of the major issues to be decided by the court was the choice of law. Plaintiffs argued that staying in their motorhome for multiple months after their arrival made them Arizona residents, so Arizona law should apply. The JSH lawyers argued the Plaintiffs were not residents of Arizona and that the choice of law analysis dictated that Minnesota law should apply in the “stacking” analysis. The court agreed with JSH’s client’s position based upon the relevant facts in the controlling Arizona case of Beckler v. State Farm. Additionally, the JSH lawyers argued that applying Minnesota law, which limited stacking of UM/UIM coverage for multiple vehicles, meant their clients did not owe the $1 million in additional UM/UIM coverage. The court denied Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and granted JSH’s client’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, finding the Plaintiffs were not entitled to “stack” the UM/UIM coverage from their other vehicles on top of the UIM coverage they already recovered under the motorcycle policy. This victory saved JSH’s clients one million dollars in additional UM/UIM payments. Verduzco v. American Valet December 9, 2014 Maricopa County Superior Court Michael Ludwig, and Jennifer Anderson Michael Ludwig and Jennifer Anderson recently obtained the complete dismissal of their clients from a catastrophic injury and wrongful death case. The six plaintiffs— two adults and four children—were involved in a two-car accident that killed one passenger, caused traumatic brain injury to another, and significantly injured the remaining passengers. The plaintiffs’ vehicle was struck by a car driven by a man who was allegedly under the influence of drugs and who, hours earlier, had stolen the car from a valet service by claiming to be the owner. The plaintiffs sued the valet company, the hotel at which it operated, and the driver of the stolen car. Ludwig and Anderson filed a motion to dismiss all claims against the hotel and valet company, arguing that neither owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs because no special relationship existed between them. The plaintiffs responded by clai