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Munroe v. Continental Western Ins. Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

November 7, 2013

Joshua MUNROE; Tiffany Munroe, Plaintiffs-Appellees
v.
CONTINENTAL WESTERN INSURANCE COMPANY, a Foreign Limited Liability Company, Defendant-Appellant.

Submitted: Sept. 24, 2013.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Christopher Manuel Garcia, argued, Saint Louis, MO (Terese A. Drew, on the brief), for Appellant.

Joseph R. Dulle, argued, Saint Louis, MO (Jeremy A. Salvatori, on the brief), for Appellee.

Before LOKEN, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

Operating his employer's truck, Joshua Munroe was injured. After settling with the tortfeasors, Munroe and his wife sued Continental Western Insurance Company for underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage in his employer's policy. Continental moved for partial summary judgment on its maximum liability. The district court granted the motion in part, holding that the Munroes could not " stack" their claims. The court denied the motion in part, finding a UIM limit of $2,000,000 rather than $500,000. Both parties appeal. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1292(b), this court affirms in part and reverses in part.

I.

On November 6, 2006, Munroe's tractor-trailer, owned by his employer, collided with three other vehicles. Munroe was seriously injured. He and his wife settled with the tortfeasors.

The Munroes then sued Continental, seeking UIM coverage under the employer's commercial automobile insurance policy. The policy's " Motor Carrier Declarations" specify a $500,000 UIM limit, and a $2,000,000 bodily-injury liability limit.

One endorsement to the policy— " Missouri Underinsured Motorists Coverage" — specifies a $500,000 UIM limit for each " accident." The " Coverage" section of the endorsement says:

We will pay all sums the " insured" is legally entitled to recover as compensatory damages from the owner or driver of an " underinsured motor vehicle." The damages must result from " bodily injury" sustained by the " insured" caused by an " accident." The owner's or driver's liability for these damages must result from the ownership, maintenance or use of the " underinsured motor vehicle."

The " Limit of Insurance" section of the endorsement says:

Regardless of the number of covered " autos", " insureds", premiums paid, claims made or vehicles involved in the " accident", the most we will pay for all damages resulting from any one " accident" is the limit of Underinsured Motorists Coverage shown in the Schedule or Declarations.

Another endorsement to the policy is a form— " Selection/Rejection of Underinsured Motorist Coverage" :

Under Missouri Insurance Law (379.203), Underinsured Motorist Coverage is optional. The insured named in the policy may select a limit of Underinsured

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Motorist Coverage lower than the bodily injury liability coverage limit in the policy, but not less than the state financial responsibility limit or the insured named in the policy may choose to reject Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
Check item selected:
[ ] Underinsured Motorist Coverage has been offered to me, however, it ...

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