-- DA 17-0599 KENNETH & KARI CROSS, HENLEY & NICOLA BRADY, and ROLAND & LANA REDFIELD, Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. ROBERT and SHERLE WARREN; GRASS CHOPPER, LLC; TAYLOR WARREN and PROGRESSIVE INS. CO., Defendants and Appellees. Oral Argument is set for Friday, September 21, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, Montana, with and introduction to the argument beginning at 9:30 a.m.
This case arises out of a dispute about whether Montana law authorizes the stacking of third-party liability limits. In 2015, Taylor Warren crossed the centerline while driving his parents’ pickup truck, resulting in an accident and causing injury to Kenneth Cross, Henley Brady, and Roland Redfield (the Plaintiffs). The Warrens’ auto insurance policy with Progressive Direct Insurance Company included a bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. The Warrens owned four vehicles, each with identical policies and limits.
Progressive paid each of the Plaintiffs $100,000, exhausting the pickup truck’s $300,000 per accident liability limit. The Plaintiffs asked that Progressive stack the liability limits for all four of the Warrens’ vehicles, bringing the total liability coverage to $1,200,000. When Progressive denied their request, the Plaintiffs initiated a declaratory judgment action in Montana’ Twenty-Second Judicial District Court. The District Court granted Progressive’s motions for summary judgment, holding that those provisions of the Montana Insurance Code did not apply in this case because third-party liability coverages are not stackable in Montana.
On appeal, the Plaintiffs argue that the plain language of § 33-23-203, MCA, permits stacking of liability coverages for which the insured paid multiple premiums. Further the Plaintiffs assert that Progressive failed to comply with § 33-23-203, MCA, and thus, the Warrens’ multiple coverages must be stacked. The Plaintiffs also argue that Montana’s public policy supports stacking by injured claimants, whether or not they qualify as insureds.
-- DA 17-0731 DRAGGIN' Y CATTLE COMPANY, INC.;and ROGER and CARRIE PETERS, Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. JUNKERMIER, CLARK, CAMPANELLA, STEVENS, P.C., Defendants and Appellees, NEW YORK MARINE AND GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Intervenor and Appellant. Oral Argument is set for Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.
In 2004 Larry Addink, a certified public accountant with Junkermier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C. (JCCS), advised Roger and Carrie Peters on how to structure the sale of a conservation easement on their company’s property. The Peters finalized the sale in accordance with Addink’s recommendations in 2007. Addink’s advice was incorrect and exposed the Peters’ company to substantial unanticipated taxes and other financial harm.
In 2011, the Peters filed a claim against Addink and JCCS to reclaim their financial losses. New York Marine and General Insurance Company (NYM), JCCS’s professional liability insurer, agreed to defend JCCS, but it reserved the right to deny coverage for some or all of the claims. The Peters offered to settle the case for $2 million, the policy limit, but NYM rejected the offer on the belief that the Peters’ claims were only worth between $100,000 and $350,00. JCCS wished to accept the $2 million offer.
In 2014, the Peters and JCCS tentatively entered into a $10 million settlement agreement, with the covenant that the Peters would not seek payment from JCCS directly. Rather, the agreement stipulated that the Peters could only pursue the insurance company to execute the settlement. The settlement agreement required a court to find it was reasonable, and if found unreasonable, the case would be tried to a jury. The District Court found the settlement reasonable and entered judgment in accordance with the settlement agreement.
On appeal, NYM asserts that the settlement agreement is unenforceable because it is unreasonable pursuant to Montana law.