Farm Bureau v. Estate of EisenmanAnnotate this Case
This appeal came before the Supreme Court from a declaratory judgment action brought by Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho (Farm Bureau). Farm Bureau brought suit in response to a claim for insurance benefits filed by the personal representatives of the estate of a deceased policyholder (the Estate). Farm Bureau requested a judgment declaring that the Estate was not an "insured" under the decedent's insurance policy and was therefore not entitled to payment of wrongful death damages under the Policy's underinsured motorist coverage. The district court granted the Estate's motion for summary judgment, determining that Idaho's wrongful death statute, entitled the insured's Estate to recover damages for wrongful death and that the Policy provided coverage for those damages. Farm Bureau appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed: as to the Estate, the Court determined that under the plain language of the wrongful death statute, the Estate was not legally entitled to recover damages for itself, but only to bring an action on behalf of the heirs to recover their damages. "The Estate stepped into [the decedent's] shoes for those claims, and Farm Bureau made those payments to the Estate. Farm Bureau's payment of these legitimate claims under the insurance contract does not constitute a change of position or an admission that coverage exists for other claims. We hold that these payments do not prevent Farm Bureau from arguing that it is not required to pay the Estate for damages that [the decedent] was not legally entitled to recover."