Wehrle v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., No. 12-3052 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The Wehrles were struck by drunk-driver Barth. Robert Wehrle’s injury claim exceeded $750,000 and his wife's claim exceeded $1.5 million. Barth’s auto insurance policy included a $100,000 per-person liability limit. Each recovered that amount from Barth’s insurer. The Wehrle’s own policy, issued by Cincinnati, included underinsured-motorist coverage, for up to $1 million. Cincinnati paid $800,000, reasoning that the Wehrles’ policy reduces its $1 million maximum payout “by all sums paid by anyone who is legally responsible,” and that the Wehrles had recovered $200,000 from Barth’s insurer. The Wehrles claimed that the $100,000 that they each received from the drunk-driver’s insurer should reduce their individual claims. The district court ruled in favor of the insurer. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the policy language unambiguously supported the insurer’s interpretation and was consistent with the gap-filling purpose of underinsured-motorist insurance.