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Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Csaszar

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

June 19, 2018

AUTO-OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, a Michigan corporation, Plaintiff Counter Defendant-Appellee,
v.
JENNIFER CSASZAR, a Colorado individual, Defendant Counter Claimant - Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO (D.C. NO. 1:15-CV-02318-CMA-KMT)

          Stephen B. Shapiro, Shapiro Beiging Barber Otteson LLP (M. Gabriel McFarland, Evans & McFarland, LLC, Golden, Colorado, with him on the briefs), Denver, Colorado, for Appellant.

          John D. Mereness (Gregory R. Giometti with him on the brief), Gregory R. Giometti & Associates, P.C., Denver, Colorado for Appellee.

          Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, BRISCOE, and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.

          TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge.

         Auto-Owners Insurance Company provided automobile insurance to Frank and Nancy Csaszar and their daughter, Jennifer.[1] But when that policy's term came to a close, Auto-Owners informed Mr. and Mrs. Csaszar that, because of their daughter's driving record, it would only renew their policy if it excluded her from coverage. The Csaszars agreed. The policy accordingly included an "excluded-driver" provision that stated the policy "shall provide no coverages" for "claims arising out of [Jennifer Csaszar's] operation or use of any automobile." App. at 205.

         While this new policy was operative, an uninsured motorist rear-ended Ms. Csaszar while she was driving a vehicle not scheduled under her parents' Auto-Owners policy. To receive compensation for her injuries, Ms. Csaszar filed a claim with Auto-Owners, requesting it pay her $500, 000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Auto-Owners denied the claim because it believed the excluded-driver provision barred Ms. Csaszar from such coverage. It then sought a declaratory judgment that Ms. Csaszar is not entitled to any coverage, including UM/UIM coverage, under her parents' policy. In response, Ms. Csaszar filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration she is, in fact, entitled to this coverage.

         The district court granted Auto-Owners' motion for summary judgment. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we AFFIRM. As we explain, the excluded-driver provision unambiguously bars Ms. Csaszar from all coverage-including UM/UIM coverage-when she drives any automobile. Ms. Csaszar also argues that if the excluded-driver provision bars her from coverage when she drives any automobile, then the provision is void as contrary to Colorado public policy. We disagree. The Colorado Court of Appeals squarely rejected this argument in Massingill v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, 176 P.3d 816 (Colo.App. 2007), when it held that if an insurer excludes a resident relative such as Ms. Csaszar from liability coverage, it may also exclude that person from UM/UIM coverage.

         I. Background

         Auto-Owners Insurance Company provided automobile insurance to Frank and Nancy Csaszar and their daughter, Jennifer. But towards the end of that policy's terms, because of Ms. Csaszar's driving record, Auto-Owners sent Mr. and Mrs. Csaszar a "Notice of Non-Renewal" stating it would only renew the policy if they "agree[d] in writing that the policy does not apply to . . . Jennifer L. Csaszar." App. at 188. The Csaszars agreed. The new policy thus included the following "Exclusion of Named Person" provision (excluded-driver provision):

Dear Policyholder:
The following is a renotification of an excluded driver(s) under your automobile policy with our company.
This policy shall provide no coverages for any damages, losses or claims arising out of operation or use of any automobile to which this policy would otherwise apply when such automobile is operated or used by the below individual(s).
This exclusion shall apply whether or not such operation or use is with expressed or implied permission of a person or organization insured by this policy.
All other policy terms and conditions apply.
Excluded driver(s): Jennifer L. Csaszar

App. at 205.

         Three vehicles were scheduled under the policy-an Audi, a Porsche, and a Toyota. In addition to providing liability coverage, the policy also included up to $500, 000 of uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

         Ms. Csaszar jointly owned a car with her mother that was not scheduled under her parents' Auto-Owners policy-a Subaru Impreza. She bought a separate insurance policy from Geico to cover her use of the Subaru. That policy included $300, 000 in UM/UIM coverage.

         While Ms. Csaszar was driving the Subaru Impreza, an uninsured driver rear-ended her. The uninsured driver was completely at fault. Ms. Csaszar suffered numerous injuries from the accident, including a serious brain injury. She sought, and received, Geico's $300, 000 UM/UIM coverage limit. But hoping to more fully recover compensation for her injuries-Ms. Csaszar claims the accident caused her over $4, ...


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