Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris LLC (SBH) partner Bruce Moothart recently obtained a panel judgment in favor of firm client Safeco Insurance Co. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Hon. Bobby E. Shepherd, Hon. Roger L. Wollman and Hon. Jonathan A. Kobes sat on the panel that reached the decision, affirming an earlier ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Moothart told Law360 that although the events were tragic, Safeco Insurance was “pleased with the decision and felt that the court made a well-reasoned ruling.”
According to the lawsuit, a woman driving her motorcycle collided with another vehicle, resulting in her death. The woman was insured under her parents’ policies with Safeco, including an auto policy that covered any family member “who does not own an auto,” as well as an umbrella policy.
The woman’s parents and her minor child were the plaintiffs, and they claimed $3 million for uninsured motor coverage under the policy. However, the Hon. Henry Edward Autrey in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri held that coverage did not exist because of the policy’s motorcycle exclusion, which does “not provide uninsured motorists coverage for bodily injury sustained by any insured … while occupying or operating an owned motorcycle or moped.”
Writing for the Eighth Circuit panel, Kobes held the language in Safeco’s auto policy unambiguously excluded the death under the motorcycle exclusion after the family appealed the specifics of the term “owned motorcycle.” He stated that the policy language was clearly intended to exclude this type of accident.
Moothart is a partner at SBH with a practice focused on the representation of businesses and professionals in complex litigation with an emphasis on insurance-related issues. An accomplished trial lawyer, he has represented clients in lawsuits in more than 20 states.