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McLaughlin v Auto Owners Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 2/8/1995; RB #1765)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 165972; Unpublished  
Judges Connor, Sawyer, and Corsiglia; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt   

Not Applicable

Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Underinsured Motorist Coverage in General  
Uninsured Motorist Benefits: Setoffs Applicable to Uninsured Motorist Case  
Private Contract (Meaning and Intent)   

In this unanimous per curiam unpublished Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's judgment which allowed plaintiff to stack underinsured motorist coverage offered under two policies issued by defendant, and held that plaintiff was entitled to coverage under one policy and on one vehicle only.

Plaintiff was seriously injured while as a pedestrian when he was struck by an automobile. Plaintiff settled his claim against the driver for the driver's policy limits in the amount of $25,000. Plaintiff then made a claim for underinsured motorist benefits under two policies issued to plaintiff by defendant insuring three vehicles. Each of the policies provided underinsured motorist coverage with limits in the amount of $100,000. The trial court allowed plaintiff to stack the underinsured motorist coverage issued on each of the three vehicles, for a total of $300,000 in coverage.  

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's ruling and held that language contained in the "limits of liability" section of the policies unambiguously precluded stacking of coverage. Specifically, the "limits of liability" section stated that the amount of underinsured motorist coverage applied, "regardless of the number of vehicles covered by the company." The court found that this provision effectively limited "intrapolicy stacking" (i.e., stacking the coverage of two vehicles under one policy), as well as "interpolicy stacking" (i.e., stacking of coverage under two separate policies issued to the same insured by defendant). The Court of Appeals also found that defendant was entitled to a credit against the limits of coverage for the amounts received by plaintiff from the tortfeasor, in accordance with the unambiguous language of the policy. Thus, the court held that defendant's liability was limited to $75,000, the amount of coverage ($100,000) less the amounts plaintiff received from the tortfeasor ($25,000).

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