FROM THE PRAIRIE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT
[59NCV-16-33], HONORABLE TOM HUGHES, JUDGE
Carter & Priebe, LLC, Little Rock, by: Daniel R. Carter and
Paul J. James, for appellant.
Eldredge & Clark, LLP, Little Rock, by: James C. Baker, Jr.,
and Kimberly D. Young, for separate appellee Federated Rural
Electric Insurance Exchange.
Murphy & Hopkins L.L.P., Little Rock, by: Randy P. Murphy and
Brandon T. Cole, Little Rock, for separate appellee
Auto-Owners Insurance Company.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
Appellant George Konecny appeals the denial of his
uninsured-motorist benefits— specifically arguing that
the Prairie County Circuit Court erred in granting summary
judgment to his insurers, appellees Federated Rural Electric
Insurance Exchange ("Federated") and Auto-Owners
Insurance Company ("Auto-Owners") and in denying
his cross-motion for summary judgment. We hold that there is
no merit to appellants arguments and affirm the circuit
August 15, 2014, Konecny, an employee of Arkansas Electric
Cooperative Corporation ("AECC"), was driving an
AECC pickup truck northbound on Highway 11 in Prairie County
when he encountered a Jeep towing another Jeep in the center
of the highway. The Jeep, which was making a u-turn in the
center of the highway, caused Konecny to swerve to avoid a
collision and to leave the highway. As he veered off the
highway on the west side shoulder, he struck a culvert,
continued, traveling northwest outside the traffic lane, and
hit two trees before coming to a final rest.
undisputed that there was no physical contact between the
truck operated by Konecny and the Jeep. It also is undisputed
that the Jeep left the scene immediately after the incident,
and neither the Jeep nor its driver were ever identified.
Michael Livesay witnessed Konecnys accident and saw the
driver of the Jeep leaving the accident scene. Arkansas State
Police officer Kris McCrea investigated the wreck. Officer
McCreas investigation confirmed that on the basis of the
evidence left at the scene, the actions of the Jeep caused
Konecnys vehicle to leave the highway. Officer McCreas
investigation confirmed that the Jeep left the scene and
corroborated Livesays statement.
cause of the wreck is not disputed— the fleeing Jeep
caused the wreck but did not hit Konecnys automobile. It is
also undisputed that the driver and owner of the Jeep did not
file a certificate in accordance with Arkansas Code Annotated
section 27-19-503 (Repl. 2014), certifying that at the time
of the occurrence, the Jeep and its motorist were operating
with the minimum amount of insurance required by law.
time of the wreck, there were two insurance policies in
effect that provided uninsured-motorist coverage to Konecny,
one with appellee Federated and one with appellee
Auto-Owners. Both appellees moved for summary judgment
arguing that each was entitled to summary judgment because
the uninsured-motorist provision required that the insured
provide proof that the other vehicle was uninsured and
further that contact with a hit-and-run driver was a
condition precedent to coverage. Konecny responded to the
motions by arguing (1) there was a statutory presumption that
the fleeing driver was uninsured, and under the terms of the
policies, he was entitled to coverage; (2) there were facts
in dispute with respect to coverage of the other driver; and
(3) the contact requirement of the insurance policies
violates Arkansas public policy.
Konecny filed a cross-motion for summary judgment against
both appellee insurers. The basis for his cross-motion was
that there is a statutory presumption that the fleeing driver
was uninsured and that he was entitled to coverage under the
terms of the policies.
a hearing on June 6, 2018, the circuit court granted both
appellee insurers motions for summary judgment. The circuit
court found that the plain language of both policies required
physical contact before the uninsured-motorist provision of
the policies was applicable. An order was filed on July 30
granting the summary-judgment motions of the appellee
insurers and denying Konecnys cross-motion for summary
judgment. Konecny filed a timely notice of appeal on August
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
appellate review, the court determines if summary judgment
was appropriate after considering whether the evidentiary
items presented by the ...