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Paine v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 22, 2017

MARK WELLS PAINE and DENISE ANN PAINE, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.

         The plaintiffs appeal adverse summary judgment rulings on their claims against the defendant and the denial of their post-trial motion for additur.

         AFFIRMED.

          Steve J. Crowley and Edward J. Prill of Crowley, Bunger & Prill, Burlington, for appellants.

          Joel T.S. Greer of Cartwright, Druker & Ryden, Marshalltown, and Mark S. Brownlee of Kersten Brownlee Hendricks L.L.P., Fort Dodge, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         An injured motorcyclist and his wife appeal adverse summary judgment rulings on their claims for early underinsured motorist (UIM) payments, bad faith, and punitive damages against American Family Mutual Insurance Company and the denial of their post-trial motion for additur.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Mark Paine was injured when a vehicle driven by Marlys Wendel turned in front of the moped he was driving, resulting in a collision that sent him airborne. Paine was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital. He testified to "excruciating" pain in his ribs, hip, knee, arms, and right shoulder. Paine was transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his hip. In time, Paine developed necrosis in the femoral head and underwent hip replacement surgery.

         Paine had a motorcycle insurance policy with American Family Mutual Insurance Company providing for bodily injury coverage of $250, 000. Paine also had a $1, 000, 000 umbrella policy with the insurer. He and his wife sued American Family for underinsured motorist coverage. They alleged that they settled with Wendel for her insurance limit of $100, 000 and were now entitled to "the full UIM limits" of the motorcycle policy. The Paines also alleged American Family acted in bad faith by refusing to make any UIM payments despite its admission that Paine's damages exceeded the limits of Wendel's coverage.

         Both sides moved for partial summary judgment. American Family asked the court to reject the Paines' bad faith claim and request for punitive damages as a matter of law. The Paines sought a declaration that the motorcycle policy imposed a legal obligation on American Family to make immediate payment of the UIM benefits available under their policy. The district court granted American Family's motion on the bad faith and punitive damage claims and denied the Paines' motion on immediate UIM coverage. The court dismissed the request for declaratory relief and set the UIM claim for trial.

         Following trial, the jury found in favor of the Paines and awarded damages of $256, 847.69. The Paines filed a motion for new trial and alternative motion for additur. The district court denied the motions, reduced the damage award by another insurer's payments, and entered judgment in favor of the Paines for $156, 847.69.

         The Paines appealed the summary judgment and post-trial rulings.

         II. Denial of Paines' Summary Judgment ...


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