United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION & ORDER
Michael McShane, United States District Judge.
Travis Batten was involved in a car accident while traveling
for work in a rental car in Louisiana. His employer was
Erickson Incorporated, an Oregon business. Pl.’s Decl.
Ex. 2 ¶ 3, ECF No. 30. The insurance policy of the
Louisiana driver who struck Plaintiff provided for vehicle
liability coverage of $20, 000, the required Louisiana
statutory minimum. Pl.’s Decl. Ex. 6 ¶ 7. This
amount is less than Oregon’s statutory minimum of $25,
000. Therefore, Mr. Griffin was an uninsured motorist
(“UM”) under Oregon law. ORS §§
time of the accident, Erickson had an automobile insurance
policy through Defendant Illinois National Insurance Company
(“Illinois National”). Pl.’s Decl. Ex. 1 at
2. Plaintiff believes he is entitled to UM coverage under
this policy because Oregon law requires it. Defendant
disagrees. Defendant and Plaintiff have filed cross motions
for summary and partial summary judgment. See ECF
Nos. 25, 30. Because Oregon law requires coverage of the
rental under the policy’s UM coverage,
Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, ECF
No. 30, is GRANTED and Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF No. 25, is DENIED.
Court must grant summary judgment if there is no genuine
issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue is
“genuine” if a reasonable jury could return a
verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Rivera v.
Phillip Morris, Inc., 395 F.3d 1142, 1146 (9th Cir.
2005) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A fact is “material” if it
could affect the outcome of the case. Id. The Court
reviews evidence and draws inferences in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Miller v. Glenn Miller
Prods., Inc., 454 F.3d 975, 988 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999)). When
the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party
must present “specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
interpretation of an insurance policy requires the Court to
determine the intentions of the parties. Hoffman Constr.
Co. of Alaska v. Fred S. James & Co. of Or., 313 Or.
464, 469 (1992). “The first aid to interpretation is
determining whether the term at issue has a plain
meaning. . . . If so, the parties’ intent conclusively
is established, and our interpretive inquiry is at an
end.” Groshong v. Mut. Of Enumclaw Ins. Co.,
329 Or. 303, 308 (1999) (citing Hoffman, 313 Or. at
469–71). “The text of the policy includes any
definitions of disputed terms included in the policy; we
must, in fact, construe the policy in accordance with any
such definitions.” Andres v. Am. Std. Ins. Co.
of Wis., 205 Or.App. 419, 423 (2006) (emphasis added)
(citing Hoffman, 313 Or. at 469–70).
plain language of the policy controlled, neither the rental
car nor Plaintiff would be covered. For uninsured motorist
coverage, Illinois National had to “pay all sums the
‘insured’ is legally entitled to recover
as compensatory damages from the owner or driver of an
‘uninsured motor vehicle.’” Stufflet Decl.
Ex. 5 at 175, ECF No. 27. Illinois National’s policy
defines a Named Insured, who is a corporation, as follows:
Anyone “occupying” a covered auto or a
temporary substitute for a covered “auto”. The
covered auto must be out of service because of its breakdown,
repair, servicing, “loss” or destruction.
Id. at 176 (emphasis added).
rental car that Plaintiff was a passenger in at the time of
the accident was not a vehicle owned by Erickson. Pl.’s
Decl. Ex. 3 ¶¶ 3–5. It was also not a
temporary substitute vehicle for an “Owned Auto.”
Verfurth Decl. Ex. 2 at 3, ECF No. 28., Because the rental
car is neither an automobile owned by Erickson or a temporary
replacement automobile, pursuant to the plain language of the
policy, Plaintiff is not an “insured” entitled to
uninsured motorist coverage. See Stufflet Decl. Ex.
5 at 175. Plaintiff conceded this point at oral argument and
within their motion. See Pl.’s Mot. for
Partial Summ. J. 7 (“On the other hand, the policy
language appears to set forth that the [uninsured
motorists] coverage is limited to Erickson’s
‘Owned ‘Autos’ Only.’”
(citing Pl’s Decl. Ex. 1 at 2, 49) (emphasis in
only question then becomes whether Erickson’s policy
with Illinois National violates protections for uninsured
motorists under Oregon law.
Oregon’s Uninsured Motorist Coverage Law
requires “all motor vehicle liability policies to
include ‘uninsured motorist coverage.’”
Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Perkins, 209 Or.App. 613,
621 (2006) (citation omitted). Importantly, “[a]ny
[uninsured motorist] provisions that are less favorable to an
insured than those required under ORS 742.504(1) to (12) are
unenforceable against an insured in Oregon.”
Erickson v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Or., 331 Or. 681,
685 (2001). Simply put, if the terms of the policy are less
favorable than required by Oregon statute, they are
subsequently unenforceable. See ORS § 742.504
(“Every policy required to provide the coverage
specified in ORS § 742.502 shall provide uninsured
motorist coverage that in each instance is no less
favorable in any respect to the insured or the
beneficiary than if the ...