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LEYMEISTER v. STATE FARM MUT. AUTO. INS. CO.

May 26, 2000

CLYDE LEYMEISTER, PLAINTIFF,
V.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Caputo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

This is an insurance coverage dispute. Jurisdiction is founded upon diversity of citizenship. Presently before the Court are plaintiffs and defendant's cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion will be granted and plaintiffs motion will be denied.

I BACKGROUND

This action was initiated by the filing of a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County on or about June 16, 1999. On July 15, 1999, defendant filed a petition for removal to this Court. On April 24, 2000, defendant and plaintiff filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The parties have stipulated to each of the facts presented in this section. (See Stipulation of Facts, doc. 13, Ex. A). Plaintiff, Clyde Leymeister and his wife Leisa Leymeister, are citizens of Pennsylvania. Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., is an Illinois corporation, authorized to write and issue insurance policies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

On August 3, 1997, plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle action which took place in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was occupying a 1987 Ford Ranger insured under a policy of insurance issued by State Farm, policy number 711 9443-E20-38 ("the State Farm policy"). The State Farm policy was issued May 20, 1994, and was reissued, and renewal premiums paid, every six months thereafter up to and including May 20, 1997. Clyde and Leisa Leymeister were the named insureds on the policy. The other vehicle involved in the accident tendered its applicable limits of liability coverage to the plaintiff. Mr. Leymeister seeks underinsured motorist benefits under the State Farm policy.

The State Farm policy covered two vehicles and provided stacking underinsured motorist coverage with limits of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident (hereinafter "25/50" coverage). State Farm policy number 711 9443-E20-38, issued to Mr. Leymeister on May 20, 1994, was a reissuance of a prior policy which had lapsed. Leisa Leymeister went to the agent's office on May 20, 1994, requested that the policy be reissued, and tendered a payment. The policy was issued in the same amounts which had been in effect under the prior policy. Leisa Leymeister signed her name and her husband's name to all the forms.

On or about March 31, 1995, Mrs. Leymeister requested changes to the Leymeisters' State farm policies as follows: a) a 1991 Ford Aerostar van was added; b) policy number 597 4603-C08-38L issued to Leisa Leymeister and covering a 1985 Chevrolet Cavaher was combined into the instant policy (number 711 9443-E20-38) to form a three-car policy; c) Leisa Leymeister was added as a named insured to policy number 711 9443 E20-38.

On or about December 6, 1995, Mrs. Leymeister requested a change to the State Farm policy to effect its cancellation on November 12, 1995. On or about December 12, 1995, Mrs. Leymeister requested the following changes to the State Farm policy: a) the limits of liability coverage were increased from 25/50 per occurrence to $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence ("100/300"); b) the limits of uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage were increased from $15,000 per person/$30,000 per occurrence ("15/30") to 25/50;*fn1 c) wage loss, medical payment and property damage coverages were also increased; d) coverages for rental and travel expenses, and death, dismemberment and loss of sight were added. Leisa Leymeister signed her name and her husband Clyde Leymeister's name to the forms.

On or about February 1, 1996, Leisa Leymeister requested the following additional changes to the State Farm policy: a) the Chevrolet Cavaher was requested to be removed from the policy; b) a 1987 Ford Ranger was added. On the same date, Leisa Leymeister signed her name and her husband's name to the forms.

Whenever a change was made on the policy, a new declarations page setting forth the types and amounts of coverage on the policy was mailed to the insureds. Renewal notices setting forth the types and amounts of coverages, and the charges for those coverages, were mailed to the insureds every six months, including May 1996, November 1996 and May 1997.

II DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Facts that could alter the outcome are material facts." Charlton v. Paramus Rd. of Educ., 25 F.3d 194, 197 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1022, 115 S.Ct. 590, 130 L.Ed.2d 503 (1994). "Summary judgment will not ...


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