MATTHEW J. WALLACE et al.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY
Argued: April 12, 2017
D. Silin, Esq., and Robert H. Furbish, Esq. (orally), Berman
& Simmons, PA, Lewiston, for appellant Matthew J. Wallace
Michael F. Vaillancourt, Esq., Ainsworth, Thelin &
Raftice, P.A., South Portland, for appellant Freja Folce
William Druary, Jr., Esq., and Gregory M. Patient, Esq.
(orally), Marden, Dubord, Bernier & Stevens, PA LLC,
Waterville, for appellee State Farm Mutual Automobile
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM,
REPORTER OF DECISIONS
Matthew J. Wallace and Freja Folce appeal from a summary
judgment entered by the Superior Court (Cumberland County,
Mills, J.) in favor of State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company on their complaint seeking underinsured
motorist (UM) payments from two policies issued by State
Farm. The plaintiffs contend that the court erred in finding
that the tortfeasor who injured them in a motor vehicle
accident was not an underinsured driver pursuant to
Maine's UM statute, and therefore there was no gap in
coverage requiring State Farm to pay UM benefits. We affirm
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
For the purpose of deciding their respective motions for
summary judgment, the parties stipulated to the following
facts. On September 29, 2011, Matthew Wallace was driving
south on Route 26 in Woodstock; Freja Folce and her minor
daughter Zoe were passengers in the vehicle. Corey Hill, who
was driving in the opposite direction in a vehicle owned by
his employer, Twin Pines Construction, Inc., lost control
while attempting to pass another vehicle, crossed the
centerline, and collided with Wallace's vehicle. The
accident was caused by Hill's negligence.
Hill was acting in the course and scope of his employment
when the accident occurred. His Twin Pines vehicle was
insured under a Safety Insurance Company policy that provided
liability coverage of $50, 000 per person and $100, 000 per
accident. Twin Pines was also insured under an excess policy
issued by Alterra Excess Surplus Insurance Company providing
$2, 000, 000 in excess commercial auto liability coverage;
however, the Alterra policy required Twin Pines to maintain
$1, 000, 000 in primary coverage, and provided that Alterra
was liable only "to the extent that it would have been
held liable had the insured complied" with that
requirement. The policies issued to Twin Pines by Safety and
Alterra were the only policies providing coverage to Twin
Pines and Hill for the accident.
The plaintiffs were insured under a State Farm policy
covering their vehicle; that policy provided UM coverage of
$100, 000 per person and $300, 000 per accident. Wallace was
also insured under a separate State Farm policy covering a
different vehicle with the same UM coverage limits.
In August 2013, the plaintiffs filed complaints, which were
later consolidated, against Twin Pines, Hill, and State Farm.
After the plaintiffs settled with Twin Pines, Alterra paid
its excess policy limits-$1, 000, 000 to Wallace and $1, 000,
000 to Freja Folce. Safety also paid its policy limits- $50,
000 to Freja Folce and $50, 000 for the benefit of Zoe. All
claims against defendants other than State Farm were then
dismissed with prejudice.
The plaintiffs and State Farm agreed for purposes of summary
judgment that the plaintiffs' aggregate damages exceeded
$100, 000-the per accident limit of Safety's primary
policy-which would entitle the plaintiffs to UM benefits
under the State Farm policies if State Farm were liable to
pay UM benefits. The parties agreed to resolve the legal
issue of State Farm's liability by summary judgment.
In May 2016, State Farm moved for summary judgment and the
plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment. By order dated
August 8, 2016, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion
and entered summary judgment for State Farm upon finding that
"Defendant Hill was not an underinsured driver" at
the time of the accident ...