a. WHILE OCCUPYING A MOTOR VEHICLE OWNED BY YOU OR ANY RESIDENT RELATIVE IF IT IS NOT YOUR CAR OR A NEWLY ACQUIRED CAR.
(Id. at ¶12; Def.'s Exhibits 1-4, Policy Form 9819B, Exclusions, p. 17, ¶ 2.a.);
2) The definition of "Bodily Injury" in the non-motorcycle policies means "bodily injury to a person and...death that results from it" (Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 13; Exhibits 2-4, Policy Form 9819B, Definitions, p. 4);
3) The definition of "YOUR CAR" in the non-motorcycle policies means, "the vehicle shown under 'YOUR CAR' on the Declarations Page (Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 14; Exhibits 2-4, Policy Form 9819B, Definitions, p. 6);
4) The definition of a "NEWLY ACQUIRED CAR" in the non-motorcycle policies to mean "a car newly owned by you." (Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 19; Exhibits 2-4, Policy Form 9819B, Definitions p. 4.); and
5) The definition of "CAR" in the non-motorcycle policies to mean "a land motor vehicle with four or more wheels..." (Id.)
As noted, the pertinent change for purposes of this dispute between Policy Form 9819A and B is the addition of an anti-stacking clause in Policy Form 9819B. The anti- stacking clause provides that:
If Other Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage Applies:
1. If uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage provided by this policy and one or more other vehicle policies issued to you or any resident relative by the State Farm Companies apply to the same bodily injury, then:
a. The Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage limits of such policies will not be added together to determine the most that may be paid; and
b. The maximum amount that may be paid from all such policies combined is the single highest applicable limit provided by any one of the policies. We may choose one or more policies from which to make payment.
Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 30; Def.'s Exhibits 1-4, Policy Form 9819B, If Other Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage Applies, p. 18, ¶ 1.
A. Standard of Review
Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. MR. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Levine v. R.B.K. Caly Corp., 2001 ME 77, ¶ 4, 770 A.2d 653.) A "material fact" is one that can affect the outcome of the case, and a genuine issue exists when there is sufficient evidence for a fact finder to choose between competing versions of the fact. Lougee Conservancy v. City-Mortgage, Inc., 2012 ME 103, ¶ 11, 48 A.3d 774.
When the defendant moves for summary judgment, it should be granted when the evidence favoring the plaintiff is insufficient to support a verdict as a matter of law. Bouchard v. Am. Orthodontics, 661 A.2d 1143, 1144-45 (Me. 1995). On a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is to be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Farrington Owners' Assn. v. Conway Lake Resorts, 2005 ME 93, ¶ 9, 878 A.2d 504.
B. The Other-Owned Vehicle Exclusion in the Three Non-Motorcycle Policies Bars Coverage for the Estate's Claim.
State Farm argues the non-motorcycle policies do not provide coverage for the Estate's claims based on the other-owned vehicle exclusion clause because Mr. Galipeau sustained "bodily injury" while occupying a car he owned, but did not constitute "your car" or a "newly acquired car" as those terms are defined by the non-motorcycle policies. The other-owned vehicle exclusion provides that there is no coverage for a policyholder who sustains bodily injury while occupying a motor vehicle owned by the insured or any resident relative if it is not "your car" or a "newly acquired car." Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 12; Def.'s Exhibits 1-4, Policy Form 9819B, Exclusions, p. 17, ¶ 2.a. State Farm argues that similar "other-owned vehicle exclusions" have been upheld and enforced in Maine for nearly thirty years. In support, State Farm cites:
Hare v. Lumbermens Mutual Cas. Co., 471 A.2d 1041, 1043 (Me. 1984) ("uninsured motorist coverage on one of a number of vehicles owned by an insured does not extend the benefit of such coverage, for no premium, to all other vehicles owned by that insured");
Brackett v. Middlesex Ins. Co., 486 A.2d 1188, 1190-91 (Me. 1985) (rejecting argument that once an insurer has paid a premium for uninsured motorist coverage, he is entitled to protection no matter where he is when injured by an uninsured motorist and finding other-owned vehicle exclusion did not violate 24-A M.R.S.A. § 2902);
Gross v. Green Mountain Ins. Co., 506 A.2d 1139, 1141-42 (Me. 1986) (affirming summary judgment in favor of insurer based on other-owned vehicle exclusion and finding that "uninsured motor coverage as required by [24-A M.R.S.A. §] 2902 may be limited to persons operating certain vehicles and does not require coverage for the insured in all situations");
Bear v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 519 A.2d 180, 182 (Me. 1986) (affirming summary judgment in favor of insurer based on other-owned vehicle exclusion where decedent owned, but did not insure vehicle she was in when killed);
Cash v. Green Mountain Ins. Co., Inc., 644 A.2d 456, 457 (Me. 1994) (affirming summary judgment in favor of insurer based on other-owned vehicle exclusion and explaining that the other-owned vehicle exclusion was "not clearly in violation of some well established rule of law");
Maurice v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 235 F.3d 7, 9-10 (1st Cir. 2000) ("[s]ince the motorcycle which the decedent was driving at the time of the accident was owned by him but insured under a separate policy, [the other-owned vehicle] exclusion, by its terms, avoids coverage for the appellant's claims"); and
Hall v. Patriot Mutual Ins. Co., 2007 ME 104, ¶ 15, 942 A.2d 663 (Me. 2008) (holding that an "other-owned vehicle" exclusion "unambiguously applie[d]" to preclude recovery by the wife of a deceased motorcyclist under an automobile policy, where the decedent was killed while operating a motorcycle he owned but did not insure through the automobile policy).
Based on this authority, State Farm argues the other-owned vehicle exclusion in the non-motorcycle policies apply and bar coverage for the Estate's claims.
The Estate does not dispute that on its face, the other-owned vehicle exclusion applies to the facts of the case. Furthermore, without addressing all of the case law cited by State Farm, the Estate recognizes that several Law Court opinions have upheld other-owned vehicle exclusions.
The Estate, however, argues that the rationale behind the exclusion does not apply in this case and that, as a result, the exclusion violates the public policy of 24-A M.R.S. § 2902(1). In particular, the Estate claims that the rationale behind enforcing the exclusion was laid out in Hare v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., which explained that "uninsured motorist coverage on one of a number of vehicles owned by an insured does not extend the benefits of such coverage, for no premium, to all other vehicles owned by that insured." 471 A.2d 1041, 1043 (Me. 1984) (emphasis added by the Estate's Opposition to State Farm's Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment). Pointing to the "no premium" language, the Estate argues the rationale enunciated in Hare does not apply in this case because Mr. Galipeau's motorcycle was insured at the time of the accident under separate policies issued by State Farm, under which the insured paid premiums. The Estate does not, however, explain how the Galipeaus paid premiums under the non-motorcycle policies for the motorcycle when those policies were not defined to include the motorcycle. Accordingly, the Galipeaus fit squarely within the rationale adopting the other-owned vehicle exclusion because they did not pay a premium for the motorcycle under the non-motorcycle policies.
The Estate also argues that while Law Court opinions have upheld the other-owned vehicle exclusion, there is only one Maine case directly on point, Gross v. Green Mountain Ins. Co., 506 A.2d 1139. The Estate argues the Court should not follow Gross because after that case was decided in 1986, there has been a national trend towards finding the other-owned vehicle exclusion unenforceable. In particular, the Estate contends that courts in a majority of jurisdictions have found the other-owned vehicle exclusion, also referred to as the "household exclusion, " void unless specifically authorized under a relevant uninsured/underinsured motorist statute. See 1 Alan I. Widiss & Jeffrey E. Thomas. Uninsured and Under insured Motorist Insurance, § 4.19 at pp. 201-14 (3d ed. 2005) (citing and summarizing cases from multiple jurisdictions-not including Maine-that reject the other-owned vehicle exclusion unless specifically authorized by statute); Jane Boeth Jones, J.D., Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Validity of Exclusion of Injuries Sustained by Insured While Occupying "Owned" Vehicle Not Insured by Policy, 30 A.L/R7 4th 172, at [3b] (same).
The Estate also cites to Justice Silver's concurrence in Pease v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. as evidence that the Law Court is moving towards the majority position rejecting the other-owned vehicle exclusion. 2007 ME 134, ¶¶ 12-17, 931 A.2d 1072. In Justice Silver's concurrence he opined that a "regular use" exclusion-whereby an insured could not recover for accidents in another vehicle if the vehicle was provided for the insured's regular use-violated the uninsured motorist statute because it was contrary to 24-A M.R.S. § 2902. Id. at ¶ 13. This was because section 2902 did not reference any exclusions and the Law Court had explained that it would not sanction reductions in coverage not provided for by the legislature. Id. Justice Silver went on to explain that the Law Court has never upheld any exclusion to UM coverage "outside some variation on the owned-uninsured exception, " i.e. the other-owned vehicle exclusion, and went on to cite examples where courts have held insurers may not limit UM coverage through UM policies. Id. at ¶ 14. Justice Silver noted that opinions in other states have found the "regular use" exclusion invalid because UM coverage is "portable under all circumstances." Id. at ¶ 15 (citations omitted). In other words, UM coverage is available "at all times and under all circumstances when a named insured sustains injury caused by accident as a result of an uninsured automobile." Id. (quoting Bilbrey v. Am. Auto. Ins. Co., 495 S.W.2d 375, 376 (Tex.Civ.App. 1973). Justice Silver found this reasoning consistent with the policy and purpose of Maine's UM statute and found construing the UM statute broadly to prohibit such exclusions follows the legislative intent to close coverage gaps rather than endorse patchwork policies that leave responsible, insured consumers without the protection they have paid for. Id. at ¶ 16.
While the rationale behind Justice Silver's concurrence arguably supports invalidating other-owned vehicle exclusions, the concurrence specifically notes that the Law Court has accepted the other-owned vehicle exclusion. Id. at 14. The concurrence did not challenge or critique the Law Court's prior recognition of the other-owned vehicle exclusion. See id. In addition, the Law Court issued Hall subsequent to its opinion in Pease. As noted, Hall upheld the application of the other-owned vehicle exclusion. 2007 ME 104, ¶ 15, 942 A.2d 663. Furthermore, the Hall court noted that the Law Court has "upheld policy exclusions similar to the [other-owned vehicle exclusions at issue in this case] against arguments that the exclusions violated insurance statutes. Id. at ¶ 11 (citing Cash v. Green Mountain Ins. Co., 644 A.2d at 457-58; Bear v. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 519 A.2d at 181-82; and Gross v. Green Mountain Ins. Co., 506 A.2d at 1141-42. Accordingly, while the national trend may hold the other-owned vehicle exclusion void unless specifically authorized by statute, Maine law is clear that the other-owned vehicle exclusion in the non-motorcycle policies is valid.
Since the other-owned vehicle exclusion applies, the evidence is clear that the non-motorcycle policies do not provide coverage for the Estate's claims. This is because Mr. Galipeau sustained his bodily injury while occupying a motor vehicle that was not "your car" under the non-motorcycle policies. See Def's S.M.F. ¶¶ 12-14, 19, Def.'s Exhibits 2-4 Policy Form 9819B, Definitions, pp. 4, 6, Exclusions, p. 17, ¶ 1.a. As a result, the court need not address the parties' argument regarding the effect of the anti-stacking provision because those arguments are premised on coverage existing under the non-motorcycle policies. Def.'s S.M.F. ¶ 30; Def.'s Exhibits 1-4, Policy Form 9819B, If Other Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage Applies, p. 18, ¶ 1. Accordingly, the court grants State Farm's motion for summary judgment and denies the Estate's motion for partial summary judgment.
The other-owned vehicle exclusion in the non-motorcycle policies bars coverage for bodily injury that occurs while occupying a motor vehicle owned by the insured or any resident relative if it is not "your car" or a "newly acquired car." Def.'s Exhibits 1-4, Policy Form 9819B, Exclusions, p. 17, ¶ 2.a. Maine courts have to date upheld other-owned vehicle exclusions similar to the ones in the non-motorcycle policies. While Mr. Galipeau may be correct that law in Maine and elsewhere may moving in a different direction, current Maine law as understood by this Court does not support his position. Because Mr. Galipeau sustained his bodily injury while occupying a motor vehicle that was not "your car" under the non-motorcycle policies, the non-motorcycle policies do not provide coverage for Mr. Galipeau's injuries. Finally, since there is no coverage under the non-motorcycle policies, the court need not address the parties' arguments regarding the anti-stacking provisions as those arguments are premised on coverage existing under said policies. Accordingly, the court grants State Farm's motion for summary judgment against the Estate's Complaint and denies the Estate's motion for partial summary judgment.
Pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 79(a), the Clerk is hereby directed to incorporate this Order by reference in the docket.
Date: December 30, 2014