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Johnson v. Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

No. 23-6061. 4/8/2024. W.D.Okla. Judge Phillips. Automobile Insurance Policies—Uninsured Motorist Coverage Exclusion—Breach of Contract—Leave to Amend Complaint—Statute of Limitations.

April 8, 2024

While Bryar was riding his motorcycle, a motorist changed lanes immediately in front of him, causing Bryar to collide with the rear of the car. The collision ejected Bryar onto the road, where a second motorist ran him over and dragged him about 150 feet before stopping. Bryar collected the state-mandated $25,000 per person liability limits on the other two drivers’ auto insurance policies. But Bryar’s injuries exceeded these amounts, so he claimed uninsured motorist (UM) coverage from his parents’ (the Johnsons’) automobile policy with Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (MetLife) (the policy). MetLife denied Bryar’s claim under an exclusion to the policy that denies coverage to resident-relative insureds injured while operating their own motor vehicle that is “not insured by a motor vehicle insurance policy” (the exclusion). Bryar sued MetLife for breach of contract. MetLife moved for summary adjudication and judgment that its policy contains an enforceable exclusion under Oklahoma law and for summary judgment on Bryar’s breach-of-contract claim. Bryar cross-moved for partial summary judgment “that there is $250,000 underinsured motorist coverage for his injuries.” About two months later, Bryar filed for leave to amend his complaint under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 15(a)(2) to add a bad faith claim. The court granted MetLife’s motion for summary judgment, denied Bryar’s motion for partial summary judgment, denied Bryar’s motion for leave to amend, and entered judgment for MetLife.

On appeal, Bryar challenged the district court’s denial of his motion for partial summary judgment and its grant of summary judgment for MetLife, arguing that MetLife owes him UM coverage up to $250,000 because his motorcycle in fact carried the “motor vehicle insurance policy” required by Oklahoma law and MetLife’s policy. The policy includes an endorsement for UM coverage up to $250,000 per person, including relatives. MetLife’s exclusion requires relative insureds to have carried “motor vehicle insurance” on the vehicle they owned and occupied when injured, and under Oklahoma Supreme Court precedent, this includes policies that carry only liability coverage. Here, it is undisputed that the policy covers Bryar as the Johnsons’ “relative,” and Bryar had a motor vehicle insurance policy with GEICO providing liability coverage for his motorcycle, though he had declined GEICO’s offer for UM coverage. Further, in its UM exclusion, MetLife chose not to require that resident-relative insureds carry UM coverage on their own motor vehicles to be eligible for UM benefits on other applicable policies. Accordingly, Bryar’s motorcycle was insured by a motor vehicle insurance policy, and MetLife owes Bryar UM coverage from his parents’ policy. Therefore, the district court erred in erred in concluding that MetLife’s UM exclusion applies to Bryar’s claim and thus in deciding the summary judgment issues.

Bryar also challenged the district court’s denial of his motion for leave to amend his complaint. However, the district court properly found that the claim would be time-barred by the relevant statute of limitations.

The judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Official US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit proceedings can be found at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit website.

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