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Patterson v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Divisions II, III

March 7, 2018

CHRISTOPHER STEPHEN PATTERSON AND REBECCA LYNN PATTERSON, AS THE SPECIAL CO-ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF MICAYLA ANNE PATTERSON, DECEASED; AND DANIELA SALAMO APPELLANTS
v.
SOUTHERN FARM BUREAU CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 72CV-16-327; 72CV-16-395] HONORABLE BETH STOREY BRYAN, JUDGE

          Brian G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks, for all appellants.

          Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, by: Shawn B. Daniels, for Patterson appellants.

          Jeff Slaton, for Salamo appellants.

          Davis, Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor, PLC, by Constance G. Clark and William F. Clark, for appellee.

          N. MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE

         This lawsuit arises from a car wreck in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in September 2010 in which Micayla Anne Patterson was killed and Daniela Salamo was injured. Patterson and Salamo were passengers in a vehicle driven by Colton Blaine Hill that collided with a vehicle driven by Dewey Quier. After settlements with insurance policies covering both the Hill vehicle and the Quier vehicle, Patterson's parents, as co-administrators of her estate, and Salamo filed complaints seeking underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from appellee Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company (Farm Bureau).[1] Farm Bureau denied that UIM benefits were available because the limits of applicable liability policies had not been exhausted. The Washington County Circuit Court granted summary judgment to Farm Bureau. We affirm.

         The Hill vehicle was insured by two Farm Bureau policies providing liability and UIM coverage. The UIM portion of the policies provided in part as follows:

We will pay damages for bodily injury which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an underinsured auto. Bodily injury must be caused by an accident arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the underinsured auto.
We will pay under this coverage only after the limits of liability under any applicable bodily injury liability bonds or policies have been exhausted by payment of judgments or settlements.

         Farm Bureau paid the liability limits of both policies to appellants, and appellants signed releases containing the same relevant language. The Pattersons' release provided in part as follows:

In the event that the undersigned should pursue a claim or file a lawsuit against Dewey Christopher Quier or any other person responsible for the conduct of Dewey Christopher Quier, and if the undersigned should recover the limits of liability insurance available to Dewey Christopher Quier or any person or entity responsible for the actions of Dewey Christopher Quier, then, and only then, would the undersigned be able to pursue a claim for underinsured motorist benefits under the insurance policies issued by Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company to Esther White (Policy MV00513646) and Debbie Bonner and Mike Bonner (Policy No. MV00632354). It is understood and agreed by the undersigned that no claim for underinsured motorist benefits shall be available to the undersigned, or to the Estate of Micayla Anne Patterson, deceased, or to the statutory beneficiaries of Micayla Anne Patterson under the Arkansas Wrongful Death Act if either of the following events occur:
(1) That no claim for damages is filed against Dewey Christopher Quier or any person or entity responsible for his actions; or
(2) If a claim is made or a lawsuit is filed against Dewey Christopher Quier and/or any other person or entity responsible for the actions of Dewey Christopher Quier and the parties making claim or filing suit fail to recover the liability limits of any applicable liability insurance available to Dewey Christopher Quier and any ...

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