Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Glenn F. Fencl, obtained summary judgment on behalf of an insurance carrier and its insured, a national trucking company, in a wrongful death/declaratory judgment case. The plaintiff’s widow, who sought $2 million in damages, claimed that her husband, an independent truck driver, was entitled to damages and Underinsured Motorists benefits (UIM) under a policy issued by the insurance company to the trucking company and its newly acquired affiliate. The plaintiff’s decedent was driving for the affiliate at the time of a fatal accident caused by an underinsured motorist. Prior to the accident and prior to the acquisition of the new affiliate, the trucking company had rejected UIM coverage or selected each states’ minimum if it was required by law.
The plaintiff’s widow claimed that because the rejection forms were not signed by the new company and not received by the insurance company prior to his death, that Illinois and Kansas law mandated that there be limits equal to the liability limits, which was $2 million. The insured trucking company was at risk as it had a $500,000 self-insured retention.
Mr. Fencl argued that the prior rejection during the policy period applied to the newly added insured. Further, he argued that there was no requirement for the acquired third-party transportation provider to re-reject coverage once it was added by endorsement to the existing policy. After two years of depositions, motions, and highly contested hearings, the court ultimately granted summary judgment for both the insurance company and the transportation insureds.
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