Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITRIN AUTO & HOME INSURANCE COMPANY v. HEISTER

September 22, 2005.

UNITRIN AUTO & HOME INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
TAMMY A. HEISTER Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN JONES, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court are cross-motions for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Unitrin Auto & Home Insurance Company ("Unitrin" or "Plaintiff") and by Defendant Tammy A. Heister ("Heister" or "Defendant"). (Rec. Docs. 11 and 13).

  Diversity jurisdiction in this Court is proper pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1332.

  For the following reasons, we will grant the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. STANDARD OF REVIEW:

  Summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed .R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing "there is no genuine issue for trial." Young v. Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 357 (3d Cir. 1992). Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences which a fact finder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982).

  Initially, the moving party has a burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This may be met by the moving party pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325.

  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that, where such a motion is made and properly supported, the non-moving party must then show by affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The United States Supreme Court has commented that this requirement is tantamount to the non-moving party making a sufficient showing as to the essential elements of their case that a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23.

  It is important to note that "the non-moving party cannot rely upon conclusory allegations in its pleadings or in memoranda and briefs to establish a genuine issue of material fact." Pastore v. Bell Tel. Co. of Pa., 24 F.3d 508, 511 (3d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). However, all inferences "should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912 (1993) (citations omitted).

  Still, "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, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). "As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material." Id. at 248. A dispute is considered to be genuine only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS:

  In the main, the facts of this case are undisputed. On March 29, 2004 at approximately 1:10 a.m., Defendant was injured in an automobile accident when the vehicle in which she was a front seat passenger was struck by a tractor trailer in South Middletown Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. As a result of the accident, Defendant suffered significant and severe injuries. At the time of the accident, Defendant was insured by an automobile policy number CV705534 issued by Plaintiff (the "Policy"). The Policy included liability insurance for Defendant in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

  The Policy also indicated that it did not provide underinsured motorist ("UIM") benefits as a result of Defendant having signed a form provided by Plaintiff entitled "Rejection of Underinsured Motorist Protection" ("UIM rejection waiver form") on August 24, 2003. (Rec. Doc. 13, Ex. A). This UIM rejection waiver form states:
REJECTION OF UNDERINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE
By signing this waiver, I am rejecting underinsured motorist coverage under this policy, for myself, and all relatives residing in my household. Underinsured coverage protects me and relatives living in my household for losses and damages suffered if injury is caused by the negligence of a driver who does not have enough insurance to pay for all losses and damages. I knowingly and voluntarily reject this coverage. By rejecting this coverage, I am also signing the waiver on pg. 10 rejecting stacked limits of underinsured motorist coverage.
(Rec. Doc. 13, Ex. B) (emphasis added). On that same date, Defendant also signed a form rejecting stacked UIM coverage ("stacked UIM waiver form").

  Defendant's parents purchased a similar policy from the Plaintiff which was issued to number CV893989 (the "Parents' Policy"). On or about July 20, 2003 Defendant's parents signed a form entitled "Rejection of Underinsured Motorist Protection" that was identical to above-excerpted UIM rejection waiver form signed by Defendant. Defendant's parents also signed a stacked UIM waiver form. It is of course not disputed that both policies as just described are governed by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law ("MVFRL"), codified at 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1701 et seq.

  Subsequent to signing these forms, Defendant made claims against Plaintiff under both her Policy and the Parents' Policy for UIM benefits stemming from the March 2004 accident. In light of the aforementioned signed waivers from Defendant and her parents, Plaintiff filed this action seeking a declaratory relief that it need not pay UIM or UIM stacking benefits to Defendant. Defendant contends that the UIM rejection waiver forms are invalid because they do not comply with the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.