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Knight v. LM General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 2, 2018

CLARA ANN KNIGHT, individually and as heir at law to LOGAN LORAINE KNIGHT, deceased; RACHEL WILSON, heir at law to LOGAN LORAINE KNIGHT, deceased; and THE ESTATE OF LOGAN LORAINE KNIGHT Plaintiffs,
v.
LM GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

         Before the court are plaintiffs Clara Ann Knight, Loraine Knight, Rachel Wilson, and the estate of Logan Loraine Knight (collectively “plaintiffs”) motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 16) and defendant LM General Insurance Company's (“LM General”) countermotion for summary judgment (ECF No. 18). Each party has responded to the respective motions (ECF No. 20; ECF No. 19) and the parties have replied to those responses (ECF No. 22; ECF No. 21).

         The parties seek resolution of a single insurance coverage issue under a policy of automobile insurance issued by LM General. The issue is whether an exclusion to the liability coverage of the LM General policy precludes coverage for wrongful death/bodily injury claims arising from a February 23, 2015 motor vehicle collision involving LM General's insured, Paul S. Williams (“Williams”). Both parties agree there are no material issues of fact in dispute and this action should be decided on the cross motions for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         LM General issued an insurance policy to Williams with effective dates of April 15, 2014 to April 15, 2015. The policy provides liability coverage of $250, 000 for each person and $500, 000 for each accident. The policy provides coverage “for ‘bodily injury' or ‘property damage' for which any ‘insured' becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident.” (ECF No. 18 (Def. Countermotion Summ. J. Ex. 2 (Williams' LM General insurance policy)). However, the policy includes an exclusion which provides:

         B. We do not provide Liability Coverage for the ownership, maintenance or use of: . . .

2. Any vehicle, other than “your covered auto, ” which is:
a. owned by you; or
b. furnished or available for your regular use.

Id.

         The subject vehicle is a Kia Sportage assigned to Williams by his employer PGM Safety Services, LLC (“PGM”). PGM employed Williams as a safety specialist and his duties included providing safety services to PGM clients in northern Nevada. As part of his employment, PGM provided Williams with the Kia to drive to and from work and to use for work purposes throughout the business day.

         Williams had driven his assigned Kia for several years prior to the collision. He was given a set of keys and was expected to drive the Kia to and from work and to take it to job sites during the workday. Williams kept the Kia at his home in between work periods. Williams was also expected to keep up with the Kia's regular maintenance and was reimbursed for the costs through PGM. PGM prohibited any personal use of the company vehicles, including even inconsequential errands. If an employee violated that policy, the employee was required to reimburse PGM at a rate of $.40/mile. There is no evidence in the record that Williams violated PGM's policies with regard to personal use of the company vehicle.

         On the morning of February 23, 2015, Williams was driving to work southbound on South McCarran Boulevard in his assigned Kia. For unknown reasons, Williams allowed the Kia to cross into northbound traffic where it collided head-on with the vehicle plaintiff Clara Knight was driving. Williams and Clara Knight's husband, Logan Knight, sustained fatal injuries. Clara Knight survived, but was seriously injured.

         Following the accident, plaintiffs collectively made claims to LM General for the full $500, 000 limit of bodily injury liability coverage available under Williams' policy. The nature and extent of the injuries is not in dispute and the parties agree that those injuries are sufficient to implicate the limits of the subject insurance policy. However, LM General denied plaintiffs' claims solely on the basis of the “regular use” exception in Williams' policy. Plaintiffs disputed the applicability of the “regular use” exception and the parties agreed to seek a resolution of their dispute through a declaratory relief action filed with this court (ECF No. 1 (Plaintiffs' complaint)).

         II. ...


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