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Encompass Indemnity Co. v. Halfhill

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

December 20, 2013

ENCOMPASS INDEMNITY COMPANY Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
HAROLD HALFHILL, II, Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff, and SONYA HALFHILL, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the parties' competing Motions for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant Encompass Insurance Company (Encompass) has moved for summary judgment, (Docket No. 25), to which Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff Harold Halfhill (Halfhill) and Defendant Sonya Halfhill have responded, (Docket No. 26). In that Response, Halfhill brings a Counter Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 26.) Encompass has filed a Reply to its Motion and Response to Halfhill's Motion, (Docket No. 27), and Halfhill has filed a Reply in support of his Motion and a Sur-Reply in Opposition to Encompass's Motion, (Docket No. 28). These matters now are fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT Encompass's Motion and enter summary judgment in its favor.

BACKGROUND

In November 2011, Halfhill was operating a 2001 Polaris Ranger on Carrsville Road in Burna, Livingston County, Kentucky, when he was struck by a pickup truck driven by Robert Belt. It is undisputed that the Halfhills owned the Polaris Ranger. The police report identifies the Polaris Ranger as a "Side-by-Side OHV." (Docket No. 25-3, at 2.) "OHV" is understood to mean "off-highway vehicle." It also is undisputed that the Polaris Ranger was intended for off-road use only. At the time of the collision, Halfhill was using the Polaris Ranger for recreational hunting. Halfhill, who suffered multiple injuries as a result of the collision, avers that the pickup truck driver, Belt, had a minimum limits liability policy and would be considered an underinsured motorist driving an underinsured vehicle. (Docket No. 26, at 2.)

At the time of the accident, Halfhill was insured under a multiple-line policy of insurance (the "Policy") issued by Encompass. The instant dispute arises out of the Halfhills' claim for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits under the Policy. In relevant part, the Policy states:

We will pay damages which any covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of any underinsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury.
1. Sustained by a covered person, and
2. Caused by an accident arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of an underinsured motor vehicle.

(Docket No. 1-1, at 44 (emphases omitted).) The term "covered person" is defined by the Policy as follows:

1. Covered person means:
a. You for the ownership, maintenance or use of any vehicle, except while occupying, or when struck by, a vehicle owned by you which is not insured for this coverage under this policy[.]

(Docket No. 1-1, at 43 (emphases omitted).) The declaration pages of the policy identify three vehicles and a boat for coverage under the Policy. Specifically, under the heading "Motor Vehicle Protection, " the Policy identifies "Vehicle 1" as a 2008 Nissan Armada, "Vehicle 2" as a 2005 Honda Element, and "Vehicle 3" as a 2011 Ford F-250 pickup truck. (Docket No. 1-1, at 4-6.) The Polaris Ranger is not identified or mentioned in the Policy.

By letter of August 8, 2012, Encompass denied the Halfhills' claim for UIM coverage. (Docket No. 25-5.) In that letter, Encompass explained that Halfhill did not meet the definition of "covered person" because he was occupying a vehicle owned by him that was not insured for coverage under the Policy. (Docket No. 25-5, at 2-3.) Shortly thereafter, Encompass filed this diversity action ...


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