APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 739-497, DIVISION
"H" HONORABLE GLENN B. ANSARDI, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, BRANDON FORVENDEL James I.
Maher, III Charles M. Winters David L. Haik
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
INSURANCE COMPANY W. Ryan Acomb
composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and
Jessie M. LeBlanc, Judge Pro Tempore
M. LEBLANC, JUDGE PRO TEMPORE JUDGE
instant appeal, defendant-appellant, State Farm Automobile
Insurance Company ("State Farm") seeks review of
the trial court's judgment in favor of
plaintiff-appellee, Brandon Forvendel. For the foregoing
reasons, we find that the trial court did not manifestly err
in finding that Mr. Forvendel could recover under both his
own and his mother's uninsured motorist insurance
policies. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is
& Procedural History
19, 2013, Mr. Forvendel was involved in a three-car accident
while driving a vehicle he owned and which was insured by
State Farm. Mr. Forvendel's State Farm automobile
insurance policy included uninsured motorist ("UM")
coverage. Following the July 2013 accident, State Farm
allowed Mr. Forvendel to recover the policy limits of his UM
policy. However, Mr. Forvendel, who lived with his mother,
Deborah Forvendel, at the time of the accident, also sought
to recover under her State Farm UM policy, which carried
significantly higher policy limits. State Farm refused to
allow him to recover under his mother's policy. Mr.
Forvendel subsequently filed suit against State Farm.
Petition, Mr. Forvendel argued that he is entitled to recover
UM benefits pursuant to his mother's policy because of
State Farm's actions with regard to a 2007 accident which
took place under strikingly similar circumstances. The two
accidents share several important commonalities. First, in
both accidents, Mr. Forvendel was injured while occupying his
own vehicle, insured by State Farm. Second, at the time of
both accidents, Mr. Forvendel carried UM coverage under his
State Farm insurance policy. Third, Louisiana's
"anti-stacking statute, " discussed below, was in
effect at the time of both accidents. Finally, at the time of
both accidents, Mr. Forvendel resided with his mother, who
also carried UM coverage pursuant to her own State Farm
Following the 2007 accident, Mr. Forvendel recovered the
limits of his own State Farm UM policy. Subsequently, he
sought additional recovery under his mother's State Farm
UM policy. On June 9, 2008, a State Farm manager wrote Mr.
Forvendel's attorney a letter with reference to the 2007
accident and Deborah Forvendel's UM policy, stating that,
"given the language in the policy … your client
does qualify as an insured for Uninsured Motorist
coverage." Consequently, State Farm allowed Mr.
Forvendel to recover under both policies in effect at the
time of the 2007 accident.
Forvendel argues that State Farm, in allowing him to recover
under both policies following the 2007 accident, waived its
defense to allowing him to recover under his mother's UM
policy with regard to the July 2013 accident. In response to
this argument, State Farm contends that its behavior
subsequent to the 2007 accident is irrelevant and cannot be
used to create or expand UM coverage or recovery for Mr.
Forvendel under his mother's policy with regard to the
matter proceeded to a bench trial on August 18, 2016. Prior
to trial, the parties entered into, inter alia, the
following stipulations. First, the parties stipulated that
Mr. Forvendel was the owner and operator of the Chevrolet
Equinox involved in the motor vehicle accident that occurred
on July 19, 2013. Second, the parties stipulated that Mr.
Forvendel had UM coverage through State Farm, and that State
Farm had allowed Mr. Forvendel to recover the limits of his
own UM policy prior to trial. Finally, Mr. Forvendel
stipulated that "his cause of action does not exceed
$50, 000, exclusive of interest and costs."
trial, Mr. Forvendel and Deborah Forvendel both testified.
Mr. Forvendel testified that after sustaining back injuries
in his more recent accident, he had been forced to stop
treatment because he was unable to afford further treatment.
Deborah Forvendel testified that she had been a State Farm
customer for over twenty five years, and that her insurance
policy had remained essentially unchanged during that time.
She further testified that she was never ...