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Rodgers v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 26, 2015

SONYA RODGERS, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

Appealed from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of Union, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 45796. Honorable Jay Bowen McCallum, Judge.

RICHARD L. FEWELL, JR., DUNCAN M. JONES, Counsel for Appellant.

DAVENPORT, FILES & KELLY, L.L.P., By: Martin Shane Craighead, Counsel for Appellee.

Before BROWN, DREW and PITMAN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 509

[49,629 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] DREW, J.

At issue in this appeal is whether a new automobile insurance policy was created when: (1) the insured sought coverage for a replacement vehicle five months after the covered vehicle stopped working; (2) the insured had told her insurance agent that she no longer needed coverage; and (3) the insured had stopped paying premiums until she obtained the replacement vehicle.

Because we conclude that a new policy was created, which required the execution of a new rejection of uninsured/under insured motorist (" UM" ) coverage, we reverse the grant of summary judgment.

FACTS

Sonya Rodgers was injured on July 31, 2012, when the Pontiac Sunfire that she was driving was involved in an automobile accident in Ouachita Parish. The insurer of the other driver involved in the accident tendered payment to its policy limits. At the time of the accident, Rodgers and her vehicle were insured by State Farm.

Rodgers filed suit against State Farm alleging that it provided UM coverage for the injuries she sustained in the accident. State Farm filed a motion for summary judgment in which it argued that UM coverage was not provided because Rodgers had rejected such coverage on April 30, 2010.

Rodgers contended in opposition to the motion that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether there was UM coverage at the time of the accident. She averred that after the original vehicle covered under her State Farm policy became inoperable, she turned in its license plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles, alerted her State Farm agent that she no [49,629 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] longer needed coverage because the vehicle was broken down beyond repair and she did not know when she could afford a replacement vehicle, and stopped paying premiums to State Farm. Rodgers argued that she considered the policy canceled after she took those steps. She further argued that after acquiring the Pontiac Sunfire, she contacted her State Farm agent and negotiated a new policy, which had a different number of 192 4037-D30-18A,[1] and she believed that she had UM coverage because State Farm never asked her to execute a new rejection of UM coverage. The policy in effect at the time of the accident was for a period of July 20, 2012, to October 30, 2012.

La. R.S. 22:1295, the UM statute, states in section (1)(a)(i):

Such coverage need not be provided in or supplemental to a renewal, reinstatement, or substitute policy when the named insured has rejected the coverage . . . in connection with a policy previously issued ...

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