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CEBULA v. ROYAL SUNALLIACE INS. CO.
April 23, 2001
FRANK J. CEBULA AND DAWN CEBULA, PLAINTIFFS
ROYAL & SUNALLIANCE INSURANCE CO. DEFENDANT
The opinion of the court was delivered by: James M. Munley, United States District Judge.
Before the court for disposition is a case where we must determine
whether the plaintiffs are entitled to $1,000,000.00 or $600,000.00 in
underinsured motorist coverage.*fn1 The plaintiffs are Frank and Dawn
Cebula, (hereinafter "plaintiffs"), and the defendant is Royal &
SunAlliance Insurance Co. (hereinafter "defendant"). The parties agreed
that both the defendant's summary judgment motion and the merits of the
plaintiff's complaint would be addressed at a non-jury trial. A trial was
held on November 22, 2000, addressing the plaintiffs' declaratory
judgment complaint and the motion for summary judgment.*fn2 At that
time, the parties formally
presented their recommended stipulated facts
and their respective legal theories. After the one-day non-jury trial,
and upon review of the parties' submissions, we rule as follows.
Based upon the record, we find as follows:
1. On December 2, 1996, Plaintiff Dawn Cebula was
injured in a motor vehicle accident and received
One Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars
($1,200,000.00) from the insurance carrier of the
third party who was responsible for the accident.
2. The plaintiffs had purchased a personal automobile
policy from the defendant with single bodily
injury liability limits of $300,000.00 and single
uninsured/underinsured motorist (hereinafter
"UM/UIM") coverage of $300,000.00.
3. Covered under the policy were two (2) vehicles, a
1995 Dodge Intrepid, and a 1996 Chevrolet S10
4. The plaintiffs subsequently desired to purchase a
liability umbrella policy from the defendant.
5. As a prerequisite to purchasing the umbrella
policy, the defendant's agent advised the
plaintiffs that they had to increase their auto
policy limit to $500,000.00.
6. The plaintiffs acquiesced to the agent's advice and
a new policy was issued to the plaintiffs which
provided for $500,000.00 of bodily injury
liability coverage, and $300,000.00 of UM/UIM
7. Since the Cebulas' owned two motor vehicles and no
rejection form was found, Royal & SunAlliance
conceded that stacking applies, resulting in six
hundred thousand ($600,000.00) in underinsured
motorist coverage under the above referenced
policy instead of three hundred thousand
8. The plaintiffs never executed a written request for
UM/UIM limits lower than the bodily injury
liability limits on their policy, as provided in
section 1734 of the MVFRL.
9. The policy in question (RDA E.D. 78-43) is not an
original policy, rather, it is a renewal policy
and Royal & SunAlliance is unable to locate or
produce either a § 1734 writing or signed
proof of a § 1791 notice.
10. Plaintiff Frank Cebula did not request UM/UIM
coverage that would be lower than his bodily
Summary judgment is proper "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 judgment as a matter of law. Knabe v.
Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n. 4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged
factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-8 (1986) (emphasis in original).
In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine
the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.
International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946,
949 (3d Cir. 1990). The
burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict
for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear
the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may
meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if
reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the
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