Brazil v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., No. 20-2764 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment action against Auto-Owners after their family members were killed in an auto accident, alleging that they were entitled to more under Auto-Owners' Policy. After both sides filed motions for summary judgment, the district district court granted in part and denied in part each motion and disposed of all claims.
The Eighth Circuit agreed with Auto-Owners that the district court erroneously interpreted the policy to provide $3 million in total coverage. The court explained that there is no reasonable interpretation of the policy that avoids surplusage. In this case, because sections 4.a and 4.b of the policy specify at "most" how much an insured may recover, those sections are properly read as limitations to coverage, not promises to provide a certain amount of coverage. Because there is only one reasonable interpretation of the policy and because 4.a and 4.b do not conflict with each other, the policy is not ambiguous. Accordingly, the court reversed, vacated, and remanded.