United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court are cross Motions for Summary Judgment filed
by the parties. Dkts. 31, 38. After holding oral argument on
the motions, the Court took the matters under advisement.
Upon review, the Court now issues the following decision
GRANTING Defendant Oregon Mutual Insurance Company's
(“Oregon Mutual”) Motion for Summary Judgment
(Dkt. 31) and DENING Plaintiff Joseph Prince's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. 38) as moot.
28, 2011, Prince was driving his father's truck
northbound on State Route 225 in Elko County, Nevada. Prince
had been working in Nevada and was returning to his Idaho
residence that he shared with his mother.
Spring was driving his truck southbound on State Route 225 at
this same time. Unfortunately, Spring was intoxicated. As
Spring approached Prince, he drove his truck across the
center line and struck Prince head-on. There is no dispute
that Prince was a fault-free victim in this circumstance.
Prince sustained serious injuries because of the accident,
and was flown to St. Alphonus Regional Medical Center in
Boise for treatment. Prince incurred $99, 728.32 in medical
bills. Furthermore, because of his injuries, Prince could not
return to work for approximately 14 months and lost $96,
492.64 in wages. Accordingly, Prince's special or
out-of-pocket damages in this matter were $196, 220.96.
time of the accident, Spring had an insurance police with
Mid-Century Insurance Company (“Mid-Century”).
This policy provided bodily injury liability coverage in the
amounts of $100, 000 per individual, and $300, 000 per
father, Douglas Smith, owned the truck Prince was driving at
the time of the accident. Smith had an insurance policy with
Farmers Insurance Company of Idaho (“Farmers”).
This policy provided underinsured motorist bodily injury
(“UIM”) coverage of $100, 000 per person, and
$300, 000 per occurrence.
mother, Ronetta Smith, had an insurance policy (“the
Policy” or “Oregon Mutual Policy”) with
Defendant Oregon Mutual. This Policy likewise provided UIM
coverage of $100, 000 per person, and $300, 000 per
occurrence. The Oregon Mutual Policy delineates that any
family member who resides in the household is a covered
motorist. Therefore, Prince was an insured and permissive
user under the Policy.
filed a personal injury action against Spring in Nevada state
court. Spring's insurance carrier, Mid-Century, settled
with Prince by tendering the bodily injury liability limits
of Spring's policy in the amount of $100, 000.
$100, 000 was inadequate to compensate Prince for his
damages. Accordingly, Prince filed the instant suit against
Oregon Mutual. The sole cause of action in Prince's
Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that Oregon Mutual is
required to pay Prince $100, 000 in UIM coverage under the
judgment is proper “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). This Court's role at summary judgment is not
“to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436,
441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). In considering a
motion for summary judgment, this Court must “view
the facts in the non-moving party's favor.”
Id. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the
respondent need only present evidence upon which “a
reasonable juror drawing all inferences in favor of the
respondent could return a verdict in [his or her]
favor.” Id. (citation omitted). Accordingly,
this Court must enter summary judgment if a party
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). The respondent cannot simply rely on an
unsworn affidavit or the pleadings to defeat a motion for
summary judgment; rather the respondent must set forth the
“specific facts, ” supported by evidence, with
“reasonable particularity” that precludes summary
judgment. Far Out Prods., Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d
986, 997 (9th Cir. 2001).
standard applicable to motions for summary judgment do not
generally change if the parties file cross motions. See,
e.g., Cady v. Hartford Life & Accidental
Ins., 930 F.Supp.2d 1216, 1223 (D. Idaho 2013). However,
the Court must evaluate each party's motion on its own
merits. Fair Housing Council of Riverside Cty., Inc. v.
Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 2001).
outcome of the motions for summary judgment in this case is
predicated on the Court's determination of two main
issues: first, whether Spring is an underinsured motorist as
defined under Oregon Mutual's Policy; and second, whether
Oregon Mutual's “policy stacking” language is
void and unenforceable.
parties disagree on where the Court should begin its analysis
of these two topics. They disagree for good reason. Depending
on where the Court chooses to start determines-to a certain
extent-whether it even reaches the other issue.
Mutual urges the Court to begin by taking up the underinsured
motorist question. It postures that the language in the
Policy is clear: Spring is not an underinsured motorist and
summary judgment in its favor is appropriate. In light of the
clear language, Oregon Mutual claims the Court will not even
need to address policy stacking because that discussion only
applies under the “Other Insurance” clause within
the UIM section of the Policy and that section is only
triggered if UIM coverage exists in the first place. In
short, Oregon Mutual's position is that Spring is not
underinsured by definition, UIM coverage is not available to
Prince for this incident, and the “Other
Insurance” section and policy stacking are irrelevant
on the other hand, urges the Court to begin by determining
whether Oregon Mutual's policy stacking language is void.
Prince reasons that if the Court makes that determination
first, the question of UIM coverage will automatically
follow. If the Court allows policy stacking, then the
language in the Policy's “Other Insurance”
clause within the UIM section is void, coverages can stack,
Spring by definition will be an underinsured motorist, and
Prince will have UIM coverage. Conversely, if the Court ...