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NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE CO. v. RIDDER

July 24, 2000

NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE CO. VS. THOMAS A. RIDDER, JR.


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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This declaratory judgment action has been brought before the Court on cross-motions of the parties for summary judgment. For the reasons which follow, the Plaintiff's motion shall be granted and the defendant's motion shall be denied.

Statement of Facts

On May 28, 1998, the defendant, Thomas A. Ridder, Jr. was injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident which occurred when his motorcycle collided with an uninsured motor vehicle. At the time of the accident, the defendant's motorcycle was insured under a policy with Progressive Insurance Company which provided non-stacked uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage in the amount of $15,000. Also at that time, Mr. Ridder and Marie B. Ridder had a personal automobile policy with Nationwide Insurance Company covering a 1989 Hyundai and a 1986 Ford Bronco carrying $100,000/$300,000 non-stacked uninsured motorist benefits. Defendant had still a third, commercial, insurance policy with Nationwide in his name and doing business as Thomson Construction covering a 1996 Ford F150 truck. That policy also carried an uninsured motorist benefit of $300,000.

Following the May, 1998 accident, Defendant made a claim for and received the $15,000 UM benefit afforded under his policy with Progressive. He thereafter made claim for UM benefits to Nationwide under both his personal automobile and his commercial policy. Nationwide denied those claims based upon the "Family Member" Exclusions contained in both of its policies. Specifically, the exclusion in the personal policy stated that:

This coverage does not apply to:

6. Bodily injury suffered while occupying a motor vehicle owned by you or a relative but not insured for Uninsured Motorists coverage under this policy; nor to bodily injury from being hit by any such motor vehicle.

The Commercial policy had a similarly-worded exclusion:

This insurance does not apply to any of the following:

5. "Bodily injury" sustained by

a. You while "occupying" or when struck by any vehicle owned by you that is not a covered "auto" for Uninsured Motorists Coverage under this Coverage form.

Plaintiff then filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that it owed Defendant nothing under either of the two policies since at the time of the accident in question, Mr. Ridder was operating his own motor vehicle (the motorcycle) which was not insured for uninsured motorist coverage under the Nationwide policies. Defendant, in turn, contends that the exclusions upon which Plaintiff relies should be declared null and void as against public policy.

Standards Governing Motions for Summary Judgment

The standards to be applied by the district courts in ruling on motions for summary judgment are set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Under subsection (c) of that rule, . . .The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory ...

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