FCCI Insurance Co. v. McLendon Enterprises, Inc.Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Georgia Supreme Court. The certified question arose out of a declaratory judgment action related to underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage under a commercial auto insurance policy issued by FCCI Insurance Co. (“FCCI”). The litigation was the result of a 2011 collision between a McLendon Enterprises, Inc. truck driven by McLendon employee Brooks Mitchell, with passengers Elijah Profit, III and Bobby Mitchell (“Bobby”), and an Evans County school bus driven by John Haartje. Profit, Bobby, and Mitchell claimed injuries as a result of the collision. In May 2013, Mitchell filed suit in state court against Haartje and the Evans County Board of Education to recover for his alleged damages. Mitchell served FCCI as McLendon's uninsured motorist (UM) carrier. At the time of the collision, the School District had an insurance policy with GSBA Risk Management Services, under whose policy, paid out the $1,000,000 liability limits for damages related to the collision. It settled with Profit and Bobby for $350,000 combined and agreed to pay Mitchell the remaining $650,000 in exchange for a limited liability release, thereby exhausting its $1,000,000 liability limits. Mitchell filed for UM benefits from FCCI. FCCI denied liability on the basis of the at-fault driver's statutory immunity. The question certified centered on whether an insured party could recover under an uninsured-motorist insurance policy providing that the insurer will pay sums “the insured is legally entitled to recover as compensatory damages from the owner or driver of an uninsured motor vehicle” despite the partial sovereign immunity of the tortfeasor. The Georgia Supreme Court answered the question in the affirmative.