Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Woods v. Standard Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

August 14, 2019

LAURA N. WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
STANDARD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Laura Woods, a Kentucky resident, was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident in Kentucky while driving a vehicle belonging to her father, Dawson Newberry. After settling with the other driver’s insurance company, Woods sought under-insured motorist (“UIM”) benefits from an insurance policy that was procured by Newberry, a Connecticut resident. The policy was procured in Connecticut from Standard Fire, a Connecticut insurance company.

         The Standard Fire insurance policy, which does not contain a choice of law provision, includes a setoff provision, which requires that any benefits received from other sources be deducted or set off from the amount of UIM benefits that may be recovered under the policy. As such, Standard Fire offered to provide UIM benefits to Woods, but only after setting off the amount that Woods had already recovered from other sources.

         At present, the threshold dispute between the parties is whether Connecticut or Kentucky law will apply to interpretation of an insurance policy issued by Standard Fire. In determining which jurisdiction’s law should apply to the policy while sitting in diversity, this Court must apply the forum state’s choice of law analysis.

         Under Kentucky’s most significant relationship test, Connecticut has the most significant relationship with the insurance policy at issue here. Still, notwithstanding the outcome of the most significant relationship analysis, the Kentucky public policy exception applies and requires application of Kentucky law because setoff provisions in insurance policies violate the public policy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and, as a result, application of Connecticut law would result in enforcement of a contractual provision that contravenes the public policy of Kentucky. As a result, Standard Fire’s motion for summary judgment [DE 8] is DENIED and Wood’s motion for partial summary judgment [DE 9] is GRANTED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Laura Woods, a Kentucky resident, was seriously injured in a two-vehicle collision in Woodford County, Kentucky. [DE 9-1 at 2, Pg ID 115]. Woods incurred expenses in excess of $250,000 as a result of the accident. [Id.].

         The driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident was insured by USAA. [Id.]. Woods settled her personal injury claim with USAA for $50,000. [DE 8-1 at 2, Pg ID 54].

         At the time of the accident, Woods was driving a vehicle owned by her father, Dawson Newberry, a Connecticut resident. [DE 9-1 at 3, Pg ID 116]. The vehicle was covered by an insurance policy written by the Defendant, Standard Fire Insurance Company. [Id.]. Woods received $11,000 in no-fault benefits from Standard Fire. [Id.].

         Standard Fire is incorporated in Connecticut and has its principal place of business in Hartford, Connecticut. [DE 1 at 2, Pg ID 2]. Newberry was the named insured on the Standard Fire insurance policy. [See DE 8-5]. Woods is not a named insured or a scheduled driver under the Standard Fire policy. [See id.]. Even so, the Standard Fire policy territory included the “United States, its territories or possessions; Puerto Rico; or Canada.” [DE 8-5 at 16, Pg ID 193].

         In September 2018, Woods demanded $100,000 from Standard Fire, which was the policy limit for UIM benefits under the Standard Fire policy. [DE 9-1 at 3, Pg ID 116].

         In response, Standard Fire offered to settle Woods’s claim for $39,000 based on a limit of liability or setoff provision in the policy. [DE 9-4]. Specifically, the relevant setoff provision in the policy says: “The Limit of liability will be reduced by all sums: [] Paid to ‘insureds’ because of the ‘bodily injury’ by or on behalf of persons or organizations who may be legally responsible.” [DE 8-5 at 24, Pg ID 201]. The policy also states:

No one will be entitled to receive duplicate payments for the same elements of loss under this Coverage Section and:
1. Any other Coverage Section of part of this policy; or
2. Any other personal auto policy issued to you by us or any of our affiliates.

[Id.]. The policy contains no choice of law provision.

         Woods refused Standard Fire’s offer and filed suit in Fayette Circuit Court, seeking a declaration of benefits under the policy and bringing claims for breach of contract, violations of the Kentucky PIP statute and Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (“MVRA”), and bad faith. [DE 1-2]. The action was removed to this Court based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. [DE 1].

         The parties agreed to bifurcate the bad faith claims from the other claims in the action and to stay discovery until the Court could resolve anticipated motions for summary judgment on the amount of UIM benefits payable under the policy. [DE 6]. The Court granted the request to bifurcate and stay discovery. [DE 7].

         Subsequently, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. [DE 8; DE 9]. These motions have been ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.