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Raye Ann Feazel, et al v. Bonnie F. Mills

October 31, 2011

RAYE ANN FEAZEL, ET AL., : PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
BONNIE F. MILLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



CIVIL APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CV07-03-1222

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutzel, J.

Cite as Feazel v. Mills,

OPINION

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, appeals a decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs-appellees, Raye Ann Feazel, Terry Feazel, and the Estate of Benjamin Feazel, deceased.

{¶2} On April 3, 2005, Benjamin Feazel was operating a Suzuki motorcycle when he was struck and killed by Bonnie Mills' vehicle after she failed to observe a stop sign. The parties to the resulting cause of action stipulated that the damages suffered as a result of that accident totaled at least $200,000. Mills settled with appellees for $100,000, which was the "each person" limit of coverage available under her policy, and was dismissed from the case.

{¶3} At the time of the accident, State Farm had issued nine insurance policies to appellees and their family business, all of which provided for uninsured and underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage. Three of these policies were personal policies issued to Terry and Raye Ann Feazel (Exhibits A1-A3), while the remaining six were issued to T.R. Technological Services, Inc. (Exhibits A4-A9). Each of these policies had UIM limits of $100,000/$300,000. Policy A(1) specifically covered the motorcycle that was involved in the accident.

{¶4} Appellees filed a cause of action for declaratory judgment and sought payment under the UIM coverage of those nine policies. State Farm asserted that: only policy A(1) applied; the $100,000 settlement with Mills equaled the limit of the UIM coverage; and that appellees were therefore not entitled to any UIM coverage for the accident.

{¶5} The parties subsequently filed competing motions for summary judgment. On September 18, 2008, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees. The court found that while five of the six corporate policies provided no coverage because the vehicles were owned by the business, policy A(8) qualified for coverage due to a notation indicating that the vehicle insured by that policy was owned by Terry Feazel. Additionally, the trial court found that an "other owned vehicle" exclusion contained within policy A(8) did not apply because the claim was for appellees' mental anguish rather than Benjamin Feazel's bodily injury.

{¶6} The trial court also found that although all three personal policies were applicable, they contained valid anti-stacking language that limited recovery to a single judgment for $100,000. In so holding, the trial court refused to enforce the "other owned vehicle" exclusions asserted by State Farm for policies A(2) and A(3). The court held, however, that because appellees were attempting to recover under both a corporate policy, A(8), and a personal policy, A(1), the anti-stacking provisions of those policies would not apply.

{¶7} State Farm filed a motion to reconsider on November 13, 2008. On January 20, 2009, the trial court issued its decision refusing to change its previous decision to grant summary judgment in favor of appellees. State Farm subsequently appealed the trial court's decision on February 23, 2009. This court sua sponte ruled that the

September 18, 2008 decision was a final appealable order and dismissed State Farm's appeals because they were not timely filed within 30 days of that decision. The Ohio Supreme Court then issued an order finding that no final appealable order had yet been filed. Thereinafter, this court remanded the case to the trial court on November 6, 2009. See Feazel v. Mills (Nov. 6, 2009), Butler App. Nos. CA2009-02-063 and CA2009-03-091. The trial court issued another decision largely restating its prior decision and also finding that appellees were entitled to prejudgment interest.

{¶8} State Farm now appeals the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment, raising four assignments of error for our review. On appeal, a trial court's decision granting summary judgment is reviewed de novo, which means we review the judgment of the trial court independently and without deference to its determination.

Morris v. Dobbins Nursing Home, Clermont App. No. CA2010-12-102, 2011-Ohio-3014, ¶14.

{¶9} Assignment of Error No. 1:

{ΒΆ10} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT UIM COVERAGE WAS AVAILABLE UNDER THE CORPORATE POLICY IDENTIFIED AS 'A(8)' ISSUED TO T.R. TECHNOLOGICAL SERVICES, INC. BENJAMIN FEAZEL ...


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