This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Shane M. Grove,
Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company,
a foreign corporation,
State Farm Fire and Casualty Company,
a foreign corporation,
Filed April 8, 2003
Norman County District Court
File No. C39997
Kenneth F. Johannson, Dwain E. Fagerlund, Johannson, Rust, Fagerlund, Yon & Stock, 407 North Broadway, P.O. Box 605, Crookston, MN 56716 (for respondent Shane M. Grove)
Leo F.J. Wilking (admitted pro hac vice), Joel M. Fremstad, Nilles, Hansen & Davies, LTD., 201 North 5th Street, P.O. Box 2626, Fargo, ND 58108 (for appellant)
Barton J. Cahill, Cahill & Marquart, P.A., Suite 200, 403 Center Avenue, P.O. Box 1238, Moorhead, MN 56561-1238 (for respondent State Farm Fire and Casualty Company)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
An injured truck driver brought an action against his employer’s insurer and his personal insurer seeking underinsured motorist coverage. On cross-motions for summary judgment on the question of coverage, the district court determined that an endorsement to the employer’s insurance policy increased the policy’s per-person underinsured motorist coverage from $25,000 to $1,000,000. Because we conclude that the usual and accepted meaning of the terms of the endorsement do not alter the policy’s per-person underinsured bodily injury limit, we reverse.
F A C T S
Shane Grove sustained serious injuries in a traffic accident while driving a truck for his employer, Transystems, Inc. After Grove received a $50,000 settlement from the other driver’s insurance company, he brought suit seeking under-insured motorist (UIM) benefits from Transystems’s insurer, Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company (Empire), and from his personal insurer, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company.
At the time of the accident, Transystems carried an insurance policy issued by Empire, which included commercial general-liability and commercial auto-truckers coverage for its fleet of trucks. According to the policy declarations, Transystems’s coverage included third-party bodily injury and property-damage coverage of $1,000,000 per accident and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
An endorsement to the policy provided in relevant part: “The most we will pay for all damages resulting from ‘bodily injury’ to any one person caused by any one ‘accident,’ * * * is the limit of ‘Bodily Injury’ shown in the Schedule for each person.”
Before trial, Empire moved for summary judgment, declaring that the policy’s per-person (UM/UIM) coverage was limited to $25,000. Grove opposed the motion and by a cross motion argued that Transystems’s UIM limit was $1,000,000. State Farm also brought a cross motion arguing that the limit was $1,000,000.
Grove and State Farm argued that the endorsement had the effect of increasing the policy’s single-accident UM/UIM coverage to the amount provided for third-party bodily injury claims—that is, they contended that the limit “shown in the Schedule” was the third-party bodily-injury coverage amount.
The district court agreed and granted Grove’s cross-motion, holding that the endorsement had the effect of increasing Transystems’s UIM per-person coverage to $1,000,000. Empire’s motion to certify the question of coverage limits was denied, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found the other driver one-hundred percent at fault and awarded damages in the amount of $723,120. After reduction for collateral sources and addition for taxation of costs, the district court entered judgment for $545,292. Empire appeals the district court’s determination of the policy’s UIM coverage.
D E C I S I O N
A district court’s interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law that we review de novo. Thommes v. Milwaukee Ins. Co., 641 N.W.2d 877, 879 (Minn. 2002). In interpreting an insurance policy we are guided by general principles of contract law. Nathe Bros., Inc. v. Am. Nat’l Fire Ins. Co., 615 N.W.2d 341, 344 (Minn. 2000). Endorsements attached to an insurance contract form part of that contract, and the endorsements and the policy must be construed together. Dairyland Ins. Co. v. Implement Dealers Ins. Co., 294 Minn. 236, 245, 199 N.W.2d 806, 811 (1972). “[W]here provisions in the body of the policy conflict with an endorsement, the provision of the endorsement governs.” Id.
The parties stipulated in the district court that the language of the endorsement was unambiguous. Although we are not bound by the stipulation, see Am. Comm. Ins. Brokers, Inc. v. Minn. Mut. Fire and Cas. Co., 551 N.W.2d 224, 227 (Minn. 1996) (whether ambiguity exists in an insurance policy is a question of law), we agree that the terms are unambiguous. Thus, the terms of the endorsement must be given their “usual and accepted meaning.” Id. at 227-28.
The endorsement states that “[t]he most [Empire] will pay for all damages resulting from ‘bodily injury’ to any one person caused by any one ‘accident’ * * * is the limit of ‘Bodily Injury’ shown in the Schedule for each person.” (Emphasis added.) The schedule lists two different bodily-injury limits, one relating to third-party bodily-injury coverage and the other governing UM/UIM bodily-injury coverage. However, only the UM/UIM bodily-injury coverage is shown in the schedule on a per-person basis; the limit on third-party bodily-injury coverage is specified in per-accident terms.
In the memorandum accompanying the summary judgment order, the district court explained its reason for concluding that the endorsement increases the per-person limit of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to $1,000,000. The endorsement states that each “bodily-injury” limit is the “limit of ‘Bodily Injury’ shown in the Schedule,” which in turn is found in the Declarations sheet. This explanation, however, leaves out the critical language, “for each person.” The endorsement states that the most Empire will pay for UIM coverage for all damages resulting from bodily injury “is the limit of Bodily Injury shown in the Schedule for each person.” Because the endorsement ties UM/UIM coverage to the bodily-injury limit that is “shown in the Schedule for each person,” it can only refer to the UM/UIM coverage, which provides bodily-injury coverage of $25,000 for each person. Consequently, we are compelled to reverse.