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Addison v. Affirmative Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

November 15, 2017

ZACHARY ADDISON AND ANDREE ADDISON
v.
AFFIRMATIVE INSURANCE COMPANY, LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY AND PHARA MARTIN

         APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2014-04168, DIVISION "L-6" Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge

          Matthew D. Hemmer MORRIS BART, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

          H. Minor Pipes, III Susan M. Rogge BARRASSO USDIN KUPPERMAN FREEMAN & SARVER, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore

          ROLAND L. BELSOME, JUDGE

         The appellants, Zachary and Andree Addison (the Addisons), appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of LM General Insurance Company.

         On May 11, 2013, Zachary Addison's automobile was rear-ended by Phara Martin. Thereafter, the Addisons filed suit against Ms. Martin, Affirmative Insurance Company, Martin's liability insurer, and Liberty Mutual[1], which they allege provided uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage to them.[2]

         LM General filed a motion for summary judgment seeking the dismissal of the Addisons' claims for UM bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. The motion for summary judgment was based on Mr. Addison electronically selecting economic-only UMBI coverage. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and limited LM General's coverage to economic-only UMBI. This appeal followed.

         It is well settled that motions for summary judgment are reviewed de novo on appeal.[3] La. C.C.P. art. 966 provides that "a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." [4]

         Facts

         Mr. Addison obtained insurance from LM General by receiving a quote via telephone. He was then given the option to complete his transaction by executing emailed documents that could be returned by mail, fax, or electronically. He chose to complete and submit the documents electronically. The electronic documents had selections of coverage pre-made based on the quote he received. The preselected information could not be changed and Mr. Addison did not inquire about changing the selections any time prior to executing and returning the documents. There is no dispute that the documents were electronically signed by Mr. Addison. Additionally, Mr. Addison was sent a copy of the policy prior to its effective date.

         On appeal, the Addisons raise numerous assignments of error that all pertain to the validity of the UM rejection form that was e-signed by Mr. Addison and provided for economic-only UMBI coverage.

         Generally, UMBI coverage is required by Louisiana law to be in the same amount as the policy limits of bodily injury liability coverage.[5] However, the law allows a named insured to select lower limits for UMBI coverage, reject UMBI coverage completely, or select economic-only UMBI coverage on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Insurance.[6] In Duncan v. U.S.A.A. Ins. Co., the Louisiana Supreme Court set forth six requirements for a valid UM form.[7] Those requirements are: 1) initialing the selection or rejection of coverage chosen; 2) if limits lower than the policy limits are chosen (available in options 2 and 4), then filling in the amount of coverage selected for each person and each accident; 3) printing the name of the named insured or legal representative; 4) signing the name of the named insured or legal representative; 5) filling in the policy number; and 6) filling in the date.[8]

         Although, the Addisons assert that the UM rejection form that Mr. Addison e-signed was deficient in meeting the Duncan criteria, we disagree. The Addisons assert that the UM form rejection form should fail because the coverage was preselected and could not be changed and his name and date do not appear in the designated area on the form. In addition to raising an issue about the proximity of the insured's name and date ...


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