Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 143780; Unpublished
Judges Marilyn Kelly, Cavanagh, and J. A. Murphy; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Liability Exclusions Prohibiting Stacking of Coverages [§3131]
Private Contract (Meaning and Intent)
In this unanimous per curiam unpublished Opinion, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court determination that the residual liability limits on three automobiles insured by Auto Club could not be stacked because of an "unambiguous" anti-stacking/"no duplication or pyramiding" clause contained in the policy.
Plaintiff Fontana was injured in an automobile accident involving a 1967 Oldsmobile owned by Gerald Mehl and driven by his wife, Julia Mehl. Gerald Mehl owned three automobiles. Auto Club issued one policy covering the 1967 Oldsmobile involved in the accident and another Mehl vehicle. A separate policy providing identical coverage insured the third Mehl vehicle. Gerald Mehl was the named insured on both policies and Julia Mehl was also an insured. The three policies each provided liability limits in the amount of $20,000.
Plaintiffs contended that they were entitled to more than the $20,000 liability coverages on the 1967 Oldsmobile involved in the accident, arguing that they were entitled to stack coverages of the second and third automobile insured by Auto Club. Plaintiffs contended that the anti-stacking provisions in the insurance policies were vague and ambiguous.
The applicable provision of the policy contained the following language:
"No duplication of pyramiding.
Under no circumstances will we be required to pyramid or duplicate any types, amounts or limits of motor vehicle coverages available from us or any other insurance company."
The trial court held that there could be no stacking of the liability limits for the second and third cars onto the liability limit of the 1967 Oldsmobile because of this language. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court, and held that the only fair reading of the provision leads to the conclusion that, regardless of the car involved, defendant would not be liable for more than the policy limits applicable to any one car. Anti-stacking provisions that are clear and unambiguous are not contrary to public policy. State Farm Insurance v Tiedman, 181 Mich App 619 (1989).